Splash park sparks talk
When talk began of creating a splash park in St. Paul, I think most parents were quite happy to hear this news and the majority of people, I believe, are in favour of creating this recreational opportunity in town.
Last week, a Facebook page was created, encouraging people to put their name on a petition to have the park located at Lagasse Park, rather than other proposed locations.
The morning after I was added to the page, I woke up with over 100 notifications in my email. I was rather surprised so many people felt drawn to take part in this conversation, whether it was by simply stating the two words “Lagasse Park” or by offering longer comments and their thoughts for or against the placement of the splash park at this location.
I quickly realized, after taking some time to sift through my emails, that there are a few misconceptions regarding this proposed spray park. The biggest misconception is that people believe the Town of St. Paul is creating this park, when in reality, a group of non-profit organizations are spearheading this project. I believe these groups, the St. Paul and District Lions Club, the local Elks lodge, and St. Paul Abilities Network, deserve recognition for initiating this project.
The town is facilitating the project and will offer land, and has also agreed to give as much as $60,000, if needed. Town representatives have confirmed this in the past and in more recent discussions also.
I know there will be a variety of items that will be looked at before the final decision is made regarding the location of the park, and I hope the decision isn’t made lightly, but instead thoughtfully.
Lagasse Park is one of the potential locations, and a quick look over the Facebook page that was created last week shows a lot of support for this location. It also shows that there is support for other locations, such as placing the park near the soccer fields.
I was confused by the term “soccer fields” at first, and have since clarified that the location would (thankfully) be much closer to the campsite, not the soccer fields. I think it would be totally absurd to place a spray park near the soccer fields. As a parent with a child who plays soccer, it’s already quite the affair to convince him to play soccer, rather than wanting to go to the playground that is already near Reunion Station. Putting a spray park anywhere within sight of the soccer fields would cause even more frustration for parents of young soccer players.
The campground also has obvious issues, such as accessibility. Children would not be able to walk to a splash park if it was located off a busy highway, away from residential homes. Even pushing a stroller with children would be a challenge in this location. It might be convenient for some visitors passing through to have a spray park nearby, but I can’t see how it would benefit local residents who would be using the park numerous times throughout the year.
And of course, Lagasse Park also has issues. Many people have voiced concern over the smell that comes from the lake and the bugs, which are worst in spring. Although I have certainly smelled the lake, I bring my kids to the playgrounds at Lagasse sometimes and they always seem to enjoy the park atmosphere, and have never said anything about the smell or the bugs.
With the online discussions that went on about the placement of the spray park, it made me wonder if maybe neither location was the right one. I’m unsure of where else the park could go, since it does depend on the availability of water, and other infrastructure factors, but I hope there is a spot on which residents can agree.
The project is one that was initiated by community members who only want to improve the town, and I certainly hope this project will continue as such. And when it is complete, I hope it acts as a reminder to people that good things are possible when good people work together.
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