A project long discussed in the community is set to become a reality in a couple months.
The Baldwin County School District last week announced that it will break ground April 1 on the Early Learning Center's splash pad. Construction is expected to last 12 weeks.
Although the new feature will be housed within one of the Head Start facility’s fenced-in playgrounds, school officials have discussed opening the splash pad up to the community possibly on designated dates and times. The project is still months away from completion, so that schedule has not yet been determined.
A splash pad is an outdoor recreation area for children that allows for water play in little to no standing water, keeping the threat of drowning to a minimum. Splash pads often feature spray nozzles coming out of the ground and shower attachments that release water from above. They are seen as ways to introduce children to the water before they swim in a pool or larger body of water.
“You get to play in the water without the danger,” ELC Director Lori Smith told school board members when the item was discussed in December.
The splash pad design was approved by the school board last month, and the contract was awarded to Tennessee-based Great Southern Recreation at $110,000. The local school system has also recently contracted with Great Southern Recreation to bring new playground equipment to some schools. Baldwin County Deputy Superintendent Matt Adams told board members during their February meeting held last week that the splash pad contract has been signed and equipment has been ordered.
The design, a rendering of which was shared with The Union-Recorder, shows a roughly square space that is about 40 feet on each side with water shooting up from several spots within the area. The splash pad will be handicap-accessible, and should provide a nice break from the hot Georgia sun for kids once temperatures warm.
To pay for the splash pad, the ELC director Smith was able to use a funding avenue that has helped her facility out several times in the past. Head Start is a federally-funded program. When individual Head Start entities do not use the entirety of their annual funding, it goes back to the agency who then redistributes the monies based on submitted proposals, similar to a grant-writing process. A bulk of the splash pad funding, about three-fourths, was secured that way.