Delaware’s new “Spray and Play” splash pad at Veterans Park will have its grand opening at 10 a.m. Saturday.
While kids will be happy with its dinosaur theme, others will enjoy the fact that the park is all-inclusive.
“We want to exceed expectations,” Assistant City Manager Jackie Walker told The Gazette in a previous interview. “It’s very unusual and well-thought-out. It’s been a long time since the community has had a new park.”
Construction on the 1.5-acre area began last August and was completed in May. It cost $2.2 million and was funded through a voter-approved recreation levy. A few soccer fields were removed, but the 15-acre park with a 1.17-mile trail is otherwise unchanged.
The playground elements of the park are dinosaur-themed. Among the equipment is a mound that has climbing walls and a slide out of a dinosaur skull; and a splash pad amid brontosaurus bones. Other amenities include a picnic shelter, three-seasons building, an amphitheater, concession stands, restrooms and Wi-Fi capability.
“Some communities perhaps have an all-inclusive play toy here or there, but the whole park, we made that commitment from the start,” said City Council member Lisa Keller in a previous interview with The Gazette.
“This is really near and dear to my heart,” Keller said. “I was a special education teacher before becoming a council member. It’s such a wonderful thing to have a place like this where kids can come and feel included. It’s going to be a shining star in Delaware.”
Walker and Keller said that once the park opens, it will receive regional and national recognition for its amenities.
“I know it’s rare, just for making that commitment from the beginning to make sure that every aspect of the park is inclusive to everyone,” Keller said.
Veterans Park improvements have been in the works since 2009, but the funding was dedicated in 2014. Since Delaware already had an outdoor pool, a splash pad was suggested.
“This park is really a destination place for the city,” Walker said. “We’re really excited about all the features, like the only all-inclusive play toy in the city of Delaware. This will be a park for everybody, so that’s a big deal.”
Veterans Park is at 1121 S. Houk Road, near the YMCA Community Center. A week ago, the Veterans Memorial Plaza adjacent to the YMCA opened; and last year, the National Guard Training Center opened up beside the YMCA. The YMCA uses space in the Guard Center.
Keller, who also chairs the city’s planning commission, said at the commission’s meeting on Wednesday that she hoped that a developer would clean up the corner of Houk Road and William Street in time for the grand opening.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.