Monday, July 29th, 2019
Splash pad is fun new feature
Ribbon-cutting opened attraction on Sunday
By William Kincaid
Kathy Sharkey on Sunday runs through the water in the new splash pad that she an. . .
CELINA - "Let's party!" Kathy Sharkey proclaimed on Sunday afternoon after cutting a ribbon to officially open the new splash pad and playground equipment in the Bryson Park District along Lake Shore Drive.
Sharkey and her grandchildren gathered in a circle and, on the count of three, pushed a button to activate the 2,827-square-foot splash pad, unleashing streams of water from the sprinklers and sprayers.
"This is for you, Grandpa Sharkey," they said in unison.
They then rushed through the water and were soon joined by hordes of other children and a Corgi named Arthur.
City officials and members of the Sharkey family presided over the grand opening of the park district's latest developments.
Sharkey, the owner of Ergo Desktop, donated $200,000 so the city could install a splash pad in honor of her late husband, Daniel J. Sharkey.
"One of the things that Kathy did was say, 'Dan wanted to do something for the kids,' " mayor Jeff Hazel said at the ceremony. "That was meaningful for us (and) … a splash pad came to be the final idea."
Kathy Sharkey said she's thrilled with how the project turned out.
"It was a month after Dan passed, and the idea just popped in my head," she said about her reason for wanting a splash pad. "I just wanted to do something for the grandkids. My late husband was such a great grandpa. He just loved his grandkids."
She also noted that she wanted to something that was free for anyone who wants to play and cool off.
The splash pad will be open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, Hazel said. Once the button is touched, water sprays out for three minutes. It's a pump-and-dump system, meaning the water goes down the drain and is not reused.
"It's actually more economical than trying to do (a recycled water system)," Hazel said. "So the water doesn't recirculate. It pumps out fresh water so we have less chance of getting any waterborne issues."
Also open are new playground equipment, including a play structure, freestanding play panels and other amenities. The playground covers more than 8,000 square feet and features a poured-in-place rubber surface for fall protection, Hazel said.
The overseers of the Bryson Trust Fund, set up decades ago to benefit the children of Celina, last year agreed to pay for new playground equipment costing about $250,000.
Kathy Sharkey also donated $150,000 to finance a spider climber and a climbing bridge near the other playground equipment.
"This is a wonderful amenity in the park. It helps drive people here," Hazel said. "It allows kids to have things to do. So instead of being on their electronics all the time, they can actually get outside and have fun. It's fully open to the public, and there is no charge."
City Council President Jason King said he appreciates the Sharkey family's vision for the community and the amount of work it took to make the new park amenities a reality.
"This has been a long time coming," King said. "We were glad to get this done. The park, the playground, the splash pad is all coming together as well as the amphitheater. It's just really good for the community."
Hazel said more park development is on the horizon.
The city is in line to receive half a million dollars in federal funding to develop the Bryson Park District, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced earlier this year. The funding is to come via the Land and Water Conservation Fund, pending final approval by the National Park Service, according to ODNR.
The grant application was a collaborative effort among the city, Grand Lake Rotary Club and Celina Lions Club.
Hazel said city officials will release a more definitive plan for spending the funds upon federal approval, which is expected in the next few months. The money could go toward playground equipment, pickle ball/basketball courts and other amenities.
The city must make a $500,000 match, which officials can meet through other projects, including a restroom facility planned for later this year, fitness trails and the Celina Lions' club proposed $400,000, 1,500-square-foot multipurpose open-air facility with shelter house, restrooms and a kitchenette/concession area for year-round use.
"My dream has always been let people know about one of the best-kept secrets in northwest Ohio. We have a beautiful community," Hazel said.
The Bryson Park District is the perfect place for people to come and enjoy Grand Lake on multiple levels, Hazel asserted.
"Fishing goes on all the time in the lake. There's a lot of boating and sailing and skiing," he said. "This gives people something to get close to the lake because most of the property around the lake is privately owned with houses."