If this sounds like a good idea in the dregs of a waning winter, just wait until the dog days come panting in.
The Roseburg Parks and Recreation Department has proposed applying for a state grant to build a play area with spraying water next year at Fir Grove Park. Comments on The News-Review’s Facebook page are mostly positive. Some cautiously so, but more of them fall in the yippee! category.
It’s easy to understand why. Pools are at a premium in the greater Roseburg area. Rivers and even creeks are dangerous places for children to play.
But a section of a park built just for dousing toddlers and small children could be ideal. No need for swimming lessons or YMCA schedules. Just a gathering place for families seeking impromptu relief for only the cost of the gas to get there.
Also attractive is the budget. Parks Program Manager Barbara Taylor plans to seek a $240,000 grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, more than half the $400,000 cost of constructing what she calls the spray ground. The city’s Park Improvement Fund and money from a trust fund would finance the balance.
As it’s now envisioned, the 2,600-square-foot spray ground would be north of the Umpqua Valley Arts Center parking lot off West Harvard Avenue. Parking in summer is ample and restrooms are already in place. Also under consideration is a second phase of construction west of the spray ground featuring a 2,000-square-foot play area. A walkway would connect the two.
For now, though, there’s the question of water conservation. Taylor said three types of systems were compared as city staffers researched the spray ground. All three start with treated city water similar to what comes out of a Roseburg tap.
A flow-through system was soon dismissed. In this scenario, water would spray through the play area, be used once and flow through the sewer line and out of the system.
Under a re-use system, water from the spray ground would go into a large holding tank. From there, it could be used to irrigate the soccer fields at night. However, Taylor said the cost for this option would be higher than a recirculating system. In addition, the soccer fields already are irrigated by nearby river water pulled through a pump.
The recirculating system chosen by the city sends water to a tank where it is treated and sent back to the spray ground. Taylor said the annual operating cost of $18,000 compares with $54,000 that would be spent for a flow-through system. In addition, recirculation uses about 2,000 gallons of water daily, as opposed to the 36,750 used in flow-through.
Though a parks advisory commission and the City Council must sign off before city staff can apply for funds, Taylor already is encouraging people who like the idea to submit letters of support that can be included with the application. The state is more likely to favor applications for projects that generate public enthusiasm.
Anyone who likes the idea of setting up a municipal sprinkler system to delight overheated youngsters should address that letter to the parks and recreation division at City Hall, 900 S.E. Douglas Ave., Roseburg, OR 97470.