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New Sprayground Makes a Big Splash

June 1, 2006

By Sam Baker, The Kansas City Star, Mo.

May 27–Crouched so he could fit inside a 3-foot dome of water, 10-year-old Donovan Walker made his plans for the summer.

He expects to come back to the new spraygrounds on Longview Road at least once a week. Or maybe it’ll be closer to twice a week.

The Friday morning ribbon-cutting at the park marked the beginning of a Memorial Day tradition — the opening of swimming pools to summer swimmers.

All of Kansas City’s major pools are scheduled to open today except Grove Park, where renovations and construction of an adjacent spray park have pushed the opening back to June 2.

Neighborhood pools will open June 13, and by the end of July the city is expected to open five more sprayground parks like the one at Longview.

There is no pool at a spray park. Water flows from a colorful series of pipes and fountains. It can take the form of a spray like that from a lawn sprinkler, or it can cascade to form a wall of water. Narrow streams squirt intermittently from the facility’s floor, which also drains all the sprayed water.

“A swimming pool doesn’t have this kind of stuff,” said 9-year-old Tahsia Smith, one of the first to try out the Longview facility. “Like, water sprays out and everything. That’s why I like this much better than the pool.”

No standing water means the city doesn’t have to hire lifeguards, and spraygrounds are cheaper to maintain than swimming pools.

Construction of the Longview spraygrounds cost slightly more than $600,000.

Deputy park director Steve Lampone said his department views spraygrounds not as an alternative to pools, but as a supplement to them.

“We’re in the process of building spraygrounds, and at the same time we’ve built this wonderful new complex north of the river,” he said, referring to the new Tiffany Hills Aquatic Center.

The $8 million center in Tiffany Hills Park has the features of other recently built public swimming pools, such as water slides, zero-depth entry and spray features.

It also includes an eight-lane, 50-meter competitive pool with diving boards that can be used for swimming and diving meets, lessons and aqua fitness classes.

A 9,000-square-foot bathhouse will have men’s and women’s changing areas with a separate family changing stall in both areas. There also is a concession area.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Platte County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Nowotny.

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Ita Eyobong and Mike Rice contributed to this report. To reach Sam Baker, call (816) 234-4443 or send e-mail to sbaker@kcstar.com .

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Kansas City Star, Mo.

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