Editor's note: The playground and steering committee meetings were re-scheduled after this story was published. This story was updated on July 22 with the revised meeting dates.
STOW — A splash pad is being added to the city center plan that also includes an amphitheater and a playground/play trail.
The amphitheater would be located in an area near an unpaved parking lot along Louis A. Dirker Jr. Boulevard, according to Stow Mayor John Pribonic. Linda Nahrstedt, director of the parks and recreation department, said the playground/play trail will contain “multiple playground pieces that kind of winds through the upper part of the amphitheater area.” She added the splash pad will be located in the same general area containing the other two features, but noted a specific location has not been determined.
With the splash pad now added in, the overall project is estimated to cost $1.5 million, said Nahrstedt.
Money is being raised to cover the cost of all three elements, and $275,000 has been collected so far, noted Pribonic. The mayor said a recently formed steering committee is working with a professional fundraiser on the process. Nahrstedt added the Stow-Munroe Falls Community Foundation is accepting sponsorships and donations on the city’s behalf for the project. She noted donations have not been solicited from individuals.
“We’ve talked about it for umpteen years,” said Pribonic. “It’s not just talk now. It’s moving forward.”
The mayor noted he would like to have all three elements finished by the end of 2020. He noted, however, that decision will be up to the steering committee.
Nahrstedt said that when Leisure Time closed, the company donated some of its “above ground” splash pad pieces to the city, but she said the city will “most likely…not be able to use them.”
“[The pieces] are old, and retrofitting then into a new splash pad would most likely cost more than any savings realized from not having to purchase new pieces,” added Nahrstedt.
The splash pad is expected to cost about $400,000 and Pribonic noted most of that expense is “for the underground [infrastructure] and we don’t have those pieces.”
How the ideas came to fruition
Nahrstedt said the city recently had a visioning workshop that included about 40 people representing the city’s commission on inclusion, the parks and recreation board, the senior citizen commission, the arts commission, the school board and the Stow-Munroe Falls Community Foundation. Workshop participants shared their vision and ideas for the amphitheater and playground/play trail.
Pribonic said input was sought from members of these boards and commissions “to make sure that [the city center items are] accessible to everybody.”
About 20 of the people from that visioning workshop then volunteered to serve on one of two committees: a steering committee and a playground committee. She said a splash pad was “discussed with great excitement” at the workshop. The steering committee then discussed the splash pad and “committed to raise the funds necessary to add the amenity to the project,” said Nahrstedt.
The steering committee is handling the fundraising and the playground committee is working on the playground/play trail and will likely work on the splash pad, too. Nahrstedt said the two committees have begun meeting on a regular basis to work on the project.
“People are excited and anxious and happy to be able to participate in the process,” said Nahrstedt.
The playground committee's next meeting is Aug. 7 at 6 p.m. and the steering committee's next meeting is Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. Both meetings will take place in city hall's boards and commissions meeting room.
Nahrstedt added the next step is to have renderings made that will include all three elements.
Pribonic said a survey performed by the Stow-Munroe Falls Community Foundation two years ago elicited strong support for a splash pad, amphitheater and play trail.
“We want to go ahead and provide what [residents] want,” said Pribonic.
The mayor said anyone who is interested in helping with fundraising should call his administrative assistant, Deb Burkey, at 330-689-2800.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.