By Wayne Allen
The Scioto County Commissioners have approved $8,700 to be spent on a Phase I Archaeological Survey, examining the area where a proposed splash park will be constructed within Earl Thomas Conley Park in West Portsmouth.
“Before we can build the splash pad we have to do an archaeological study. I think we’ve had one, but it needs to be updated,” said Mike Crabtree, chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners. “That area has been farmed. I know for a fact it’s been plowed for years, with a lot of crops raised in there. I really don’t see the point in this, but it is a requirement and we have to do it.”
Late last week the commissioners flew to Sandusky, Ohio, to visit a splash park that’s comparable in size to the one proposed in Scioto County. Crabtree said it was important the commissioners visit other splash parks, because they want to get the most out of the money being spent on this project.
Commissioner Bryan Davis said while at the Sandusky Splash Park, they were able to talk to residents of the area, to get feedback on the park. Davis said there were several things about the parks design he did not like, which included the use of portable toilets and the location. He said the park was located 40 feet from a busy street and the park was not fenced in.
“I think the overall sentiment was, we we’re not 100 percent satisfied with the layout of this one,” Crabtree said.
Commissioner Doug Coleman said he was not impressed with the Sandusky Park.
Crabtree said one of the things the Sandusky Park had going for it was they are able to use all the water they want without recycling it. Once operational the splash park in Scioto County will filter and recycle water, to keep water costs low. The county will have to use water supplied by the city of Portsmouth.
It’s estimated the entire project will cost about $450,000, with $250,000 in state capital improvement funds. No indication has been given from where the additional $200,000 would come.
The preliminary designs of the splash park include the construction of a building to include two restrooms, a mechanical room and a storage area. The preliminary designs also include an underground water storage tank, and a six-foot chain link fence that would surround the park, allowing for the park to be closed when not in use or in cold weather. Also included are several amenities, aimed at a younger audience.
Coleman said Earl Thomas Conley Park is a popular location, with some its shelter houses booked months in advance. He said the water splash park would only complement the popularity of the park.
“We think this will be used by a lot of kinds and will bring a lot more people to the park,” Coleman said.
He said a number of community pools have closed in recent years and the water splash park would be a positive thing for Scioto County.
Coleman said work may begin on installing the park and restrooms this year, but it’s not likely it would be operational until spring or summer of 2016.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT