O'Fallon Family Sports Park Splash Pad a big hit

Progress Sports WriterJuly 11, 2014 

The O’Fallon Family Sports Park is not just attracting the birds and the bees—it’s also bringing in community members from throughout the region.

Moreover, residents and non-residents alike are making good use of the outdoor oasis of non-traditional playground structures and 6,000 square foot splash pad.

The two-acre play area tucked away within the 200-acre O’Fallon Family Sports Park’s Splash Pad has earned a reputation as a reprieve from the sweltering heat of summer, according to John Goodisky, of Collinsville.

“This is my first time with my seven-year-old granddaughter Taegan Benson, but I’ll tell you what, I’ve been hearing all about it and had to see for myself,” Goodisky said. “It’s great. We’re having a blast.”

As many who frequented the outdoor activity area last week pointed out, another highlight of the splash pad is it costs nothing to park and visit, which one single mother from Belleville, Lydia Duke, said helps her pocketbook.

“I’ve never been here before, but I know we will definitely be back again,” Duke said.

“It’s just so cool to have something like this so close so we don’t have to go over the river.”

O’Fallon City Administrator Walter Denton said he’s not surprised the Family Sports Park attracts community members from surrounding areas.

“The O’Fallon Sports Park was intended to be a destination all along...with the ball fields and soccer fields we get lots of people from all over the region regularly, so it makes sense that people would come back to enjoy the splash pad too,” he said.

“It was built for families to enjoy and we hope that O’Fallon families get to enjoy it and other folks too.”

The venue includes restrooms and a comfort area, pavilions, tables and benches, a water fountain and even recycling bins, which allows for an ideal picnic or meet up destination, Katherin Yount, of Lebanon, said.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom and am new to the area from Ohio, so I’m here today to meet up with a group from Facebook called ‘Mommy and Me,” Yount said. “It’s perfect for my (20-month-old) daughter because there’s so much (sensory) stimulation for her to explore—plus it gets us out of the house.”

The two sets of play equipment offer a unique experience for all different ages, according to informational signage located at the park edges.

For example, one structure is targeted for two- to five-year-olds and the other geared towards five- to 12-year-olds and above with WEEVOS and EVOS play systems from Landscape Structures. The components of the entire playgrounds and splash pad center—combined—allow for a hands-on and active adventure for everyone, young and older, Goodisky added as he spun his granddaughter around on a freestanding spinner.

Another bonus Belleville mother Nikki Goff said, as she juggled her two-year-old daughter Brin and her five-year-old nephew Bradey Doogan, is the fall-friendly synthetic turf grass underneath both large play structures.

“Plus if the kids take their shoes off, I don’t have to worry about their feet getting too hot,” Goff added.

Mark and Jaime LaPlantz, of Fairview Heights, said they’ve frequented the park before and decided to bring their son Logan to the splash pad for his second birthday excursion.

“It’s a treat for him and we like what (the splash pad) has to offer,” Jaime said as she guided Logan through the large, weathered boulders of the man-made stream bed that acts as a barrier from the parking lot.

The stream that is observed to mimic that of a natural stream or creek bed uses surge tank filtered, chlorinated water.

The swiftly moving water flows over rounded river rocks for adults and children alike to congregate and cool off while others may choose to run around the other sections of the splash pad.

“I love that it’s constantly moving and not creating stagnant pools for mosquitoes to breed—it’s like being able to sit in the shallow parts of a river without having to get dirty or actually be in a river,” Duke said.

O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham has been a proponent of the Family Sports Park as well as the splash pad in recent years.

“This park is a critical part of our growing park system and it will benefit generations of O’Fallon residents in the future as well as bring enormous immediate impact to our community,” Graham said.

“We issued some bonds to build the ball fields and the artificial turf soccer field and we built the splash pad at the same time, and was completed in 2010,” Denton said.

“The project cost $500,000 and was partially funded through a state Department of Community and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) grant and partially through the allocated bonds.”

The O’Fallon Splash Pad follows the same schedule as the community pool, Denton said.

“Both open every year over Memorial Day weekend and close for the season Labor Day weekend and are open to the public,” Denton added.

The O’Fallon Splash Pad is at 300 Obernuefemann Road with park hours from 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday. The venue also can be rented out for birthday parties, seven days a week, for residents and non-residents.

rkirsch@bnd.com

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