September 12, 2008

Council Rejects ‘Splash Pad’ Water Conservation, Cost Cited As Reasons for Denial

By Neil Nisperos

CHINO HILLS - The city decided this week not to build a children's water play area in the Butterfield Ranch neighborhood, after a cost of $458,850 was presented for the project.

A "splash pad" recreational area usually includes several metal or plastic structures that dump, splash or spray water on children as they play.

The council approved Butterfield Ranch Park as the preferred site for a 1,300-square-foot splash pad in the city last month.

But Mayor Pro Tem Peter Rogers said Tuesday his enthusiasm for the project had diminished after the cost estimate rose from an initial figure of about $300,000.

Rogers also said the timing on building the project wasn't right, given the city's recent effort to encourage water-saving measures in a time of statewide drought.

Water consumption related to a successfully built splash pad would have amounted to about 500 to 1,000 gallons a day, according to a city report. Mitch Mohlman, a Chino Hills resident who spoke out against the splash pad at the Tuesday council meeting, said that amounted to about 30,000 gallons a month.

"I'm not sure, in this time of water conservation, it would be a wise use of water," he said.

Mohlman and others also brought up the availability of the children's water play area at the new large shopping center near the 71 Freeway.

"We already have The Shoppes, which has a splash pad," said Councilwoman Gwenn Norton-Perry.

Mayor Curt Hagman had been a proponent of the splash pad. He was the lone dissenting vote after Norton-Perry on Tuesday moved to deny moving forward on the splash pad.

Hagman said most of the people he has communicated to on the issue supported the idea.

He said the price on the splash pad had gone up because planners factored the increased cost of incorporating a recirculating water system into the splash pad.

"Most of the people I've spoken to on the street praised the idea," Hagman said before the vote.

The proposed project would have also taken money away from other park-enhancement projects.

The $459,000 to build the project would have been supplied by $360,000 from the Galstian Park project and $98,900 from the Big League Dreams Field and Skate Park Enhancement project, officials said.

Officials said maintenance expenses on the proposed amenity were estimated to have been between $6,000 and $10,000 annually.

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