Tuesday March 24, 2009
Louisville’s families will have four brand new spraygrounds and five improved swimming pools to splash into this summer, Mayor Jerry Abramson announced today.
Abramson announced the improvements and the outlines of Metro Parks’ aquatics plan during a late-afternoon news conference with Metro Council members at one of the city’s most popular spraygrounds at Iroquois Park.
“This new approach for aquatic recreation will provide a much higher level of service to families across Louisville,” said Abramson. “We’re keeping our commitment to maintain our best swimming pools, while significantly expanding the number of places where kids can go to splash around and stay cool.”
One of the new spraygrounds – and Metro Parks’ largest yet – will open this weekend at Algonquin Park in West Louisville. Like the popular Iroquois Park sprayground, it will be open throughout the spring, summer and fall, whenever the weather is warm.
The other three spraygrounds – at Wyandotte Park, Shelby Park and Farnsley Park – will be under construction in the next few weeks and two are scheduled to open in July.
Construction on three more spraygrounds could begin this fall and open next spring – at LaPorte Park in Portland, Nelson Hornbeck Park in Fairdale and Shawnee Park in West Louisville.
The city is spending $2.35 million on the12 new or improved aquatics facilities – or just under $200,000 each on average. All projects have been previously approved except for LaPorte and Hornbeck park spraygrounds; the council is expected to vote on reallocating funds for those projects as soon as this week.
The Shawnee Park sprayground, a public-private partnership funded in part by the DREAM Foundation and Olmsted Parks Conservancy, will include a large handicapped-accessible playground similar to the successful Iroquois Park model. The groups have pledged $350,000 for the project.
“We are fortunate to have community-minded groups like the DREAM Foundation and Olmsted Parks Conservancy to help us provide fun and recreation to children of all abilities,” Abramson said.
The seven new spraygrounds expected to be opened over the next year will more than double the city’s outdoor splash parks. Currently, the city has five free spraygrounds – two at Waterfront Park and one each at Iroquois Park, Baxter Square and outside the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center.
In the coming years, Metro Parks’ aquatics plan calls for adding more spraygrounds throughout the community from Riverview Park in Southwest Louisville to Long Run Park in Northeast Louisville.
Spraygrounds are increasingly popular options for aquatics across the country, said Metro Parks Director Mike Heitz. Spraygrounds can be open more than twice as long as summer pools, and they cost about $100 a week to operate compared to $10,000 a week for outdoor pools.
“Spraygrounds are good investments for our citizens and good clean fun for our families,” Heitz said.
Improvements coming to five swimming pools
The city’s four outdoor pools will be getting needed improvements to drainage systems in time for the opening whistles this summer. The upgrades will soon be underway at pools at Algonquin Park in West Louisville, Nelson Hornbeck Park in Fairdale, Sun Valley Park in Southwest Louisville and the Norton Pool at Camp Taylor Park in South Central Louisville.
Major drainage system improvements were made in 2008 at the city’s indoor pool, the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center.
The $250,000 in pool improvements will also include shade umbrellas, deck chairs, lifeguard stands and other furnishings suggested by pool users, Heitz said.
Long-range plan includes more indoor pools
Abramson also said that the city plans to build up to three more indoor aquatic centers throughout Louisville. Because these facilities can cost up to $12 million each to build and $700,000 annually to operate, the city will explore public-private partnerships so that the costs can be shared.
These new indoor pools would be developed over the next decade as public and private funding becomes available.