words and photos by Jarett Theberge

“It’s kid-tested and mayor-approved,” says Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan at the opening of the new Joy Park Splash Pad on Tuesday.

Residents of Akron are seeing the results of a survey conducted by the city’s recreation bureau that called for more aquatic attractions in public parks.  

“We asked our residents what do you want to see more of and so overwhelmingly they wanted to see more aquatic activities,” the mayor says. “So we extended hours at our pools and took a serious look at splash pads or spray parks, which is what these are called, and said, ‘let’s just do it and invest in one of these a year or a couple a year.’”

The city plans to open another splash pad in Patterson Park by Labor Day. 

Michelle and Dion Fleetwood, parents in the community, are thrilled to see the splash pad in their neighborhood. 

“I think it’s really good for the kids. I think it’s safer than a pool we don’t have to worry about the kids drowning,” Michelle says. 

“Even us grown-ups,” Dion says. “I took a walk through the water. It’s great for the kids, though. A lot of them don’t have pools or can’t afford them, so something like this is fabulous.”

Tara Mosley-Samples, city councilmember for Ward 5, was involved with the planning processes and says she is delighted by the results.

“This [idea] came to city council almost 20 years ago,” she says. “Ed Dividian brought it to our then Mayor Puscquellic and he pushed on for years, trying to get these splash pads across Akron. And almost 20 years later, here we are.” 

Mosley-Samples says this was possible through federal funding and grants the city received. She also sat down with the design team for the splash pad to go over what would work best for the kids in the ward she represents. 

“This is amazing. As you can tell the kids love it. It’s open seven days a week from 11 am to 7 pm, and it will be utilized greatly and heavily, I’m sure.”

Jarett Theberge is a journalism student at Kent State University.

The Joy Park Splash Pad is located at Joy Park Community Center, 825 James Ingram Way, in East Akron. Open daily 11 am-7 pm.

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