“OK,” Brad Gillis asked the Salisbury City Council. “Who wants to get wet?”
With those refreshing words, Gillis made a splash at the work session Monday when he proposed a local water park he described as a sprayground – a playground that’s wet.
The goal is to have it open by next year and dubbed Splashbury.
“It’s an ambitious goal but we’re going to shoot for a star,” Gillis said, asking for a consensus from the council, so planning can continue.
“We love the idea,” said Vice President Laura Mitchell, at the helm in the absence of Council President Jake Day.
Still, council members didn’t agree on the location, and asked Gillis to return at a future meeting with a pros and cons lists of suggestions sites, plus a date for a public meeting.
Gillis and David Plotts, of the City Park Committee, said the committee met twice and the first choice for the custom-designed park is at what they called “the underused baseball field across from Ben’s Red Swings” near the zoo entrance.
Gillis said it’s a suitable location since restrooms will soon be built there.
Mitchell didn’t like the spot, and suggested picnic island near the zoo, on the river side, close to Ben’s Red Swings. That way, she said, the city wouldn’t lose the ball field.
She said another possible location is in the park, going toward the river, near the entrance to the zoo and area where picnic tables are.
She asked Gillis how large it will be and he said it can be made large or small, or opened as a modest facility and enlarged in time.
Councilwoman Shanie Shields said some residents might still use the ball field and that the community should have a say in where Splashbury is located.
She said she will campaign for the West Side Playground to have at least a smaller version, so children who live in that area don’t have to cross streets to get to City Park. The Salvation Army swimming pool is also too far for children to travel, she said.
Councilman Jack Heath said organizers’ ideas are flowing in the right direction. “How can you go wrong? This is something for the betterment of the city,” he said.
Councilman Tim Spies suggested expanding the idea to include picnic tables so parents can relax and watch their children.
Gillis said property will be vetted and neighbors will have an opportunity to comment. A public meeting will be planned.
Once a location is determined and an agreement reached with the city, fund-raising will begin.
Reach Susan Canfora at firstname.lastname@example.org.