I.F. City Council approves funds for a splash pad in budget session

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The site of the old Reinhart Pool is one of the options being considered for a splash pad. | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — One local’s petition for a splash pad in town has paid off as the Idaho Falls City Council has approved $150,000 in funds toward creating a new water recreation area.

Joshua Dawson, who drafted the petition, got more than 2,400 locals on board through signatures, to have Reinhart Park renovated into a new splash park.

“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 told EastIdahoNews.com in July.

But no final decisions have been made on the location. City officials tell EastIdahoNews.com they are considering the Reinhart Pool area as a possibility, but there are other possible locations. The next step forward would be a feasibility study to determine the best location in Idaho Falls. Dawson is still hoping his proposed area will be used.

“Just now hoping that it gets built at Reinhart instead of somewhere else,” Dawson says.

Dawson admits he’s happy that through his petition citizen’s voices were heard.

“(The petition) made it so the Mayor and Council could realize that there’s more than just a few of us speaking at the council meeting. There was more to it than just the few voices that were vocal,” Dawson says.

Idaho Falls city spokesman Bud Cranor says as the city moves forward with the project $50,000 would be allocated for consultation on the design and feasibility of a splash park, and $100,000 is a set aside as a contingency fund for future use. These funds are coming out of the Parks and Recreation Department’s budget.

Reinhart pool at Reinhart Park | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

“That money has been approved and included in the budget,” Cranor said. “We will be moving forward to look at the potential locations and design considerations … (additionally) Parks and Recreation (may) identify some grants or other funding as we move forward in the coming months.”

The fiscal year began on Oct. 1 which means the city can begin using the portion of its funds for the study. Officials have said they’ve rewarded a bid to a company that will oversee the planning.

Any additional grants, donations or partnerships made to the Parks and Recreation Department will be added to the $100,000 contingency fund.

Beyond the approved splash pad, recreation superintendent PJ Holm says the city hopes to create more water recreation areas in other parts of the city in the future. One proposed area is at Tautphaus Park.

“We’re interested to hear from the community about what they would like to see in relation to splash pads in our community,” Holm said. “Is it one large spray pad, or smaller pads at different locations in the city? We look forward to getting that input.”

The city will be hosting a public meeting in several weeks to brainstorm ideas.

“We are excited to hear from the community and to see the vision of a splash pad or splash pads come to fruition in the city,” Holm said.

People can watch the city’s social media and website at www.idahofallsidaho.gov for announcements about the process.