University Park

“We went into West Elementary (4th grade class) and Winship Elementary (5th grade class) which are the two schools that are closest to the park,” says Bill Palmiscno, Superintendent of Recreation. “We took everybody into their computer room and had them use WaterPlay’s online system to build their own water parks. So, we had 32 individual water parks and then we went through them and calculated all the features that were most popular and those are the ones we worked into ours.”

At the end of the day, the eight most popular features made it into the 3,000 square foot spray park.

Engineering Decisions

Like all construction projects, the University Park project saw its share of engineering decisions and budgetary compromises. This project began by determining the size of the spray ground.

Wayne Dietrich, Principal Architect for EAPC Architects in Grand Forks says, “We looked at a number of spray ground sizes and water features. We looked at a 3,500 square foot spray ground down to a 1,500 square foot spray ground. We made the selection at the 3,000 square foot size.”

The final size of the park determines how many features you can have which determines how much water you need to pump which leads to utility bill questions which leads to decisions and educated guesses by the planning committee.

One of the big decisions was whether to re-circulate the water or dump it. At University Park, they decided it was more cost-effective and possibly healthier to just dump the water and continually pump fresh water.

“We did studies to make sure this was the best choice,” says Dietrich, “but without knowing the frequency of use, how many days it will be operating and how many children will be using it, it’s really an unknown factor.”

In the end, they decided to follow the lead of cities like Green Bay, Wisconsin, which has five or six spray parks sprinkled throughout the city and has decided dumping the water is the best option.

The option looked especially attractive since the park is unfenced and unmanned (the park has one roving attendant who is on site, but responsible for more than just the spray park).

“We had to deal with public health a bit about that,” says Dietrich, “because its not fenced in, if a dog comes and goes to the bathroom and contaminates it that could be a problem. We decided it would actually be more of a problem with re-circulating the water then just pumping fresh.” And, the design allows for a re-circulating system to be added later if necessary.

Apparently, the health department agreed because the new, unfenced, relatively unmanned park opened in August of 2005 to great popular demand.

Since its opening, the park district has broken ground on a second spray park in another city neighborhood as part of their Elks Pool refurbishing with three to four more planned to roll out in the coming years.

Building neighborhoods, it seems, is contagious.

How It Works?

According to Wayne Dietrich, Principal Architect for EAPC Architects in Grand Forks, “The nuts and bolts of these spray parks are pretty basic. You just have a water supply (usually coming from a nearby park building) and traveling out to a below grade vault that houses the water manifold and appropriate electronics. The electronics control which features run and for how long when a user hits the activator on the feature. Ultimately, how long and when the user hits the activator of the water feature creates a sequence of how each water feature is used by the water sent to it.”

University Park Details

Size: 3,000 square feet

Number of Features: 19 (eight above ground)

Manufacturer: WaterPlay

Water Supply: City Water. Not re-circulated.

Drains: Two

Over-spray Area: 10 feet

Price Tag: $221,000

Where Funds Came From: Mitigation/re-location funds provided by Army Corps of Engineers earmarked for the replacement of Riverside Pool which is now located in a flood plain.

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  5. Swim Lessons

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