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La Grange, LaGrange Park park districts to put in splash pads

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LA GRANGE — A cooling escape from the heat awaits La Grange residents next summer, and those in La Grange Park also could enjoy a wet and wild time the following year.

Park districts in both communities are developing splash or spray pads, small installations with devices that spray or squirt water. The water elements are activated either by a timer or at the touch of a button from visitors.

Both projects are designed as an economical alternative to a swimming pool, but the two park districts are pursuing different approaches to delivering cost-effective operations.

La Grange officials decided on a greater initial investment with a pumping system and reservoir to recycle water in the system, resulting in estimated annual operating costs of $250 for electricity, said Dean Bissias, executive director.

“It’s more costly to run the water down the sewer, but it’s a higher cost for us at the start up, installing the pumps,” Bissias said. “I’m looking at it as being more economical in the long run.”

Bissias said it’s difficult to separate the cost of materials and installation for the splash pad, about 30-by-30 feet, from the $2.2 million Gordon Park renovation project, which was bid with a number of other components to save money. Construction began in June and is expected to be done by October.

LaGrange Park has just begun the grant application process and hopes to receive $400,000 for its $849,000 project to renovate Memorial Park, northeast of La Grange Road and Woodlawn Avenue.

A splash pad was suggested by architects helping the Park Board review parks and develop a master plan, said Roy Cripe, executive director.

“The board wanted to do something fun for the residents, but not have it become a regional attraction,” Cripe said.

Tentative plans call for the splash pad to be roughly 25-by-25 feet, with about half the area filled with sand, and three or four water elements.

Operating similar to a water fountain, the water would be released through mini-bioswales and then into the storm water system.

“We’ve chosen the full drain system, primarily because of the expense of the other system,” he said. “We won’t have pumps and filters that need to be changed or cleaned a couple times a week or more.”

Cripe estimates the cost of materials and installation is about $200,000.

As part of the grant application process to show cooperation and support among governmental entities, the park district asked the village of LaGrange Park for a 20 percent discount on water and sewer rates for the next four years.

The discount, approved by the village, amounts to $1,255.21 a year, based on a total estimated operating cost of $6,276 for water and sewer service.

Cripe said the figures and design are preliminary and are subject to the approval of the grant. Awards may not be announced until May.

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