Hitting the streets of Baltimore

The 2019 NRPA Annual Conference is just five days away, and we’re excited to get to Baltimore to connect, learn and discover with all of you. If you’re planning to attend the Conference, mark your calendar to join us throughout the week.

DISCOVER.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll be in the Exhibit Hall in booths 3003 and 2806. In the Landscape Structures booth, you’ll find lots of playground inspiration, fun products and opportunities to recharge. Our friends at Aquatix will be nearby ready to talk all things splash play, inclusive spray play and more.

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CONNECT.
Tuesday evening, we’ll be at Eutaw Street – Oriole Park at Camden Yards celebrating the work our customers are doing to shape the lives of children.

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LEARN.
Join us for our education session, Spray Play for All: Designing Inclusive Splash Parks, on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 11 a.m. You’ll hear from our experts, John McConkey and Bill Hachmeister, as well as Ingrid Kanics, president of Kanics Inclusive Design Services, and Rickie Yeager, the development director with the City of Parkersburg, W.V.

Get more details about the NRPA Annual Conference including keynote speakers, workshops and more. And be sure to stop by our booths to connect with us!

 

Planning an Inclusive Splash Pad

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Splash pads are a great way to make aquatic play accessible. Even though splash pads may be accessible to those with differing abilities, this does not make them fully inclusive inherently. Designing bigger and more exciting splash pads does not necessarily make a splash pad more inclusive. In fact, bigger and more exciting often adds barriers for some individuals. Designing for inclusion requires extra consideration  in the design process, but typically very little consideration for extra budget or maintenance.

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Splash pads should be designed as an aquatic play environment comprised of features that maximize the sensory and cognitive stimulation for children of all physical and mental abilities and is designed to encourage all children to play together and with the same features. Play features that are wheelchair height accessible and adequate turn-around space between elements are important aspects to consider in design. Other considerations should be made for how children with autism or other sensory differences may approach such a space: is there a balance between intense and more gentle water play? How will the various sounds and sights affect those playing in this space?

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From the design of the splash pad feature, to the methods of accessing the site, be conscious of barriers to access and address them early in the design process. For instance, assure that there are adequate handicapped parking spaces and that the path from parking to the splash pad location does not contain any obstacles.

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All splash pads should be developed utilizing a rule of thumb for one child every 25 square feet of active water spray. Splash pads are an excellent opportunity for park agencies to develop safe play areas that encourage people of differing ages and abilities to experience water play.

To learn more about Splash Pad products, visit the Aquatix website.

Planning a Community Splash Pad: Goals and Development

Welcome back to the second installment of our educational series on how to create a community splash pad! The last post focused on items to be accomplished in the pre-planning stage. This week we will be focusing on the goals of the splash pad and its development.

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Goals

By creating a list of goals, planners and decision makers can refer to the objectives they set in the beginning to re-evaluate their choices to ensure they meet the goals they originally set out with. The goal of a Master Plan is to provide community residents exceptional open space, park land, facilities and programs to splash pad users.

The following goals and objectives are intended to provide an operational framework for future decisions related to provision of parks and recreation.

  • Create a Sense of Community and Belonging
  • Offer programming that is targeted to families and those residents without support services.
  • Celebrate the community through participation in festivals, community functions and events.
  • Support and encourage new developments to include areas for active and passive recreation.
  • Provide parks and recreation facilities that are of the highest quality, that preserve open space and history, are well maintained and that are accessible to all residents of the community.
  • To create a community of healthy residents by providing opportunities that promote and encourage active lifestyles.
  • Provide recreation programming and facility opportunities that meet the needs and interests of the entire community.
  • To use existing community resources efficiently and to demonstrate fiscal responsibility.
  • To build a city-wide system of parks connected by trails and greenways to provide both active and passive recreation opportunities.
  • To enhance the landscape character and aesthetics of parks to heighten the experience of the spray park user.
  • To increase the accessory services and facilities available to the park system use in the way of adequate restrooms, water fountains, concessions, shades areas, playgrounds, and other accessory services or facilities.

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Development

  • Clearly define the goals of the project (i.e. public health, revenue generation, community asset, etc.) and frame public discussions, budget numbers and designs in terms of stated goals.
  • Design the splash pad so that capacity aligns with projected use and revenue goals. Don’t cap users at a much lower number than the official capacity of their splash pad for safety.
  • Ensure access issues such as parking are considered early in the design process.
  • Plan for expansion and new features (i.e. install more ground sprays than will initially be used and buy water features that can be replaced or exchanged).
  • Explore opportunities to develop splash pads near other public amenities such as parks, pools, picnic areas and community centers.
  • Ensure adequate seating in shaded areas for adults supervising splash pad users.
  • Install mechanical and electrical equipment on concrete surfaces and insulated from dust and dirt.

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Important considerations during the planning process:

1.Physical Location

  • Within Community
  • Within Park or Recreation District
  • Proximity to similar neighboring facilities

2. Location and Availability of Parking

  • Is there sufficient parking?
  • Is there van or bus parking?
  • Is the parking shared with other activities?

3. Location and Availability of Restrooms and Concessions

  • Are restrooms included?
  • Are changing areas included?

4. Existing Utility Services (Water, Sanitary, Storm and Electrical)

  • Are existing utilities on site or nearby?

5. Nearby Amenities and Facilities (Playground, Athletic Fields, Mini Golf, Courts, etc.)

  • Are there nearby facilities that will complement the sprayground? Or negatively impact the sprayground?

6. Neighborhood Connectivity, Bicycle Routes

  • Connectivity to nearby regional bicycle or multi-use trail systems.

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To learn more about Aquatix splash pad and water play products, visit their website.

National Water Safety Month 2019

May 1st kicks off National Water Safety Month 2019! As temperatures climb in many parts of the world, participation in water play increases exponentially. Splash pads, water parks, and pools are a great option to cool down while developing key skills through play. In order to partake in these activities safely, check out these tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards
  • Always swim with a buddy
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket
  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub
  • Actively supervise children whenever around the water
  • Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions
  • Keep toys not in use away from the water and out of sight
  • Reach or throw aid to distressed swimmers; don’t go

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Additional resources for water safety learning can be found through

The International Swimming Hall of Fame

Simple Steps Save Lives

The National Water Safety Month campaign is a joint effort of the American Red Cross, The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, the National Recreation and Park Association and the World Waterpark Association.

The annual event, which has been in existence for ten years, is designed to help prevent drowning and water-related illness and injuries.

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Commit to safety in water play with the “I’m a Safe Swimmer” pledge.

Go here for more details about National Water Safety Month.

Creating a Community Splash Pad: Benefits and Pre-Planning

Planning a community splash pad can be an intimidating process. There are many aspects to consider in order to make the investment a success. In this series, we will be offering guidance on what to expect, steps to take, and elements to consider during the planning process!

There are many benefits to investing in a community splash pad. One of the long-term benefits is the revenue that residents and non-residents bring into the community along with the added appeal of living in that area. Attracting people means attracting money and patronage to the community. Patrons eat at restaurants, go to movies, buy gas, and go shopping whether they are living there or visiting. Adding to inclusive play opportunities for children is another important benefit. People who are looking for inclusive areas that are built with their children in mind can appreciate design intended for their kids’ physical and mental needs. Inclusive water play may be one of the only public areas that caters to all ages and abilities. Overall, splash pads can benefit a community both socially and economically.

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Pre-Planning Steps

Progressive cities should develop a coordinated system of parks and open space to meet the recreation aspects of urban life. This system, when properly planned, will maintain a consistent ratio between the park system and the developing population. The system will also develop a program consistent with the specific needs of the population. Finally, the system will develop a plan for future development to meet the demands of a growing population.

During the planning and development phase public officials should have an in depth knowledge of the communities needs based on resources, age demographics, future community growth, maintenance capabilities, expansion, location and funding. This should be accomplished based on past history and future expectations.

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History of the Park & Recreation Department: The first section of a plan gives the community a historical context in which to view the department and provides details as to how and why city leaders determined the need and created the department. This section is relevant to the plan because it allows the plan user and community to discover the progress which has already been made in parks and recreation in the city.

Introduction to a Master Plan: This section briefly describes that many progressive cities adopt coordinated parks system plans and explains the purposes of the plan. The section provides a preview of the contents of the overall master plan. Plus, it will define the overall park system by type and size facility. It will then project future needs both in terms of land and physical fixtures. Finally, it will provide a basis for a long-range capital improvements program, and provide for flexibility in the design and construction of individual parks.

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Analysis of the City: A section detailing information on demographics, projected population, and observed needs of the city’s existing and future population. This is an important section of the plan because it details who will be utilizing the splash pad in the future and what their recreational needs may be.

Profile of the Existing Parks and Recreation System: This section details the size, location, and facilities of each park, and all programs currently sponsored by local sports associations as well as the parks department. This section is important to the plan in that it provides information in which a sort of “state of the system” or status of the parks system may be ascertained.

These sections provide a complete overview of the scope of a recreation facility project such as a splash pad and can be referenced by all those involved for a more cohesive understanding of the details of the project.

Stay tuned for the next installment of in our series about creating a community splash pad!

Are Splash Pads the New Public Pool?

Geographical areas that experience their version of “warm weather”, whether that be a few scorching months of summer, or relatively mild temperatures nearly year round, are most likely familiar with the concept of a nearby cool-off zone. For many decades, that has meant a community pool where families and nearby residents could gather to seek relief from the sun and expend warm-weather energy.

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Public pools, however, have some inherent limitations. Members of the community most likely vary widely in age, from very young toddlers to teens and their parents, grandparents, and caregivers. As a result, the interests of these different ages are varied and require a more complex play experience. Younger children are able to be more adventurous at a splash pad than at a pool as they aren’t required to know how to swim or be a certain height in order to maintain a level of safety. Children of all abilities would have the opportunity to engage with splash pads, especially those from Aquatix® by Landscape Structures which are designed specifically to cater to different abilities. This is not always true for pools. Gentler water experiences like misting and bubbling water may entertain young guests while jets and waterfalls keep older children and teens busy and cool.

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Splash pads can also be beneficial when considering the cost and maintenance of the area compared to a pool. Adding a splash pad to a community area undoubtedly brings value to that area. They can be visually exciting and are more visible than the traditional swimming pool, attracting families to come and explore the community. They can be added to already existing facilities like parks to revitalize an area and create a destination location for repeat visitors.

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Generally, the initial investment of a splash pad is less than a swimming pool. Since they do not generate standing water, there is far less risk for drowning, negating the need for fencing, signage, and lifeguards which are both initial and ongoing costs to consider.

 

For cities where public pools are not a viable option, splash pads from Aquatix® by Landscape Structures can bring fun, value, and interest to an area that may otherwise have no water play. Children of all abilities and many ages are able to enjoy the benefits of water play while architects and designers are able to take more creative liberty in designing an area that is just as visually interesting as it is fun.

Pre-planning for your splash pad

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Splash pads have been dubbed the new public pools, popping up in cities all over the country. The appeal of splash pads is deeply rooted in their numerous benefits. Splash pads offer entertainment and value that is attractive to local governments, task forces, fundraising groups, financial contributors, property owners, citizens, visitors and kids.

So, where do you start? Everyone in your splash pad conversations has a stake in the endeavor. Therefore, it’s important that you review several of the pre-planning considerations before moving forward. Use the tips below to help set the stage for a successful project and a positive experience for everyone involved:

  1. Location. It’s said that “location is everything”, and it’s the first consideration in your pre-planning for a splash pad. Having a visible location will heighten use. The more visible it is, the more the destination is able to market itself.
  2. Permits and zoning. Splash pads are installed on both public and private land. Common places include city parks, private residential associations, private campgrounds and public parks; all of which have unique zoning requirements.
  3. Space and parking. Making sure the location will provide enough space for your design is important. Not only do you need adequate space for the splash pad itself, but you also need space for the mechanical equipment. Additionally, most municipalities require designated and/or a certain number of parking spaces for these type of amenities.
  4. Water table. When deciding on your location, be sure to check on the below-ground water level. If the splash pad will be using a recirculation system, it will require a buried water reservoir and the water table will play a key factor.
  5. Sidewalks and bathrooms. Once you’ve got your potential site selected, you’ll want to check codes for what type of bathrooms are required and how close they need to be. In some cases, you may be able to utilize existing bathrooms with the addition of a connecting paved sidewalk.

Aquatix can help you with all your pre-planning splash pad considerations and help guide you through the entire process. Go here to read more, and then contact us to get started on a design.

 

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