Locals petition for splash pad at old Reinhart Pool in Idaho Falls
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IDAHO FALLS — What once used to be a popular place to cool off during hot summers has become an eyesore on Washburn Avenue in recent years.
The now ramshackle Reinhart Pool has seen better days and members of the community want to restore some of its glory by transforming it into a splash park.
“I saw the news release from the city of Idaho Falls saying they were going to bulldoze this and just fill it in and make it grass,” Joshua Dawson says. “That’s fine but the city’s got 20 plus parks in the area that’s (made up of) grass.”
Dawson has been spearheading the effort by getting signatures for a petition. Since he started last month, he’s collected more than 2,300 signatures with a goal of 2,500.
“We already have water here we’ve got the electricity, let’s turn it into a splash park. Something that the kids on the west side can use,” Dawson says.
The pool has been in Idaho Falls since the 1950s. Dawson says he grew up in the Reinhart park area and has fond memories.
“I’d ride my bicycle up here and I think back then it was about $1 to get in. I would spend many summers there with multiple sunburns,” Dawson says.
Since the pool was closed after the summer of 2013, he’s hoped for something his children can look forward to during the hot days of the year. He says the splash park doesn’t have to be extravagant and it wouldn’t require a lifeguard.
Fellow splash pad advocate Matt Larsen says he loves taking his children to water features and thinks Washburn Avenue would be the perfect location for something new.
“We are majorly lacking in water features in Idaho Falls. We have the aquatic center. They’re doing as well as they can but it’s the only pool we have. It’s very old it’s a lot of upkeep and we need something new. There’s nothing else in Idaho Falls,” Larsen says.
Bud Cranor, spokesman for the city says the original plan for the pool was to fill it in, plant grass, but keep all the plumbing and connections for future possibilities when the budget was available. Members of the city council say they were made aware of the dilemma of Reinhart pool, and the solution of a splash park through public hearings.
“The parks department had submitted some recommendations. The council approved of some money to move forward in the budget process for a study and analysis of a splash pad. They put some placeholder money in there for parks on rec to do that,” Cranor says.
So far the city council has proposed to have $150,000 in its tentative budget. $50,000 is for consultation on design and feasibility of a splash park and $100,000 is a placeholder in case the project moves forward. These funds are to come out of the Parks and Recreation Department’s budget.
The $50,000 will be used right away for a study on having a splash pad on either the west side or east side of town. Any additional grants, donations or partnerships made to the Parks and Recreation Department will be added to the $100,000 placeholder fund.
“I feel if we get the city council and the city of Idaho Falls behind this let the city council know that, ‘Yes this is something that we want,’” Dawson says. “If we support it and let the council know we want it, it will get built.”
Once a study is done the city will have an idea of the total cost of the splash park and what part of town it could be placed in. Dawson is hoping the splash pad will be up and running by next summer. The city will vote on the tentative budget July 30. The public can give input on the budget at the August 16 meeting before the final budget is voted on, on Aug. 23.