City OKs splash zones for youngsters this summer

DANIEL BURESH of the Madison Fire Department submitted the above map of proposed "splash zones" in Madison that adults can set up as children's play areas during June and early July. The project supporters plan to operate temporary water parks at the first four sites, review the project and perhaps continue the program at another five sites. They plan to use a fire truck and fire hydrants at each of the splash zones.

Madison hasn't experienced the hot days of summer so far during 2021, but with the city's outdoor swimming pool in need of repair, members of the Madison Fire Department are proposing a schedule of "splash zones" during June and early July to keep boys and girls active and help beat the heat.

Daniel Buresh of the city's fire department presented the splash-zone idea to the Madison City Commission on Tuesday. Buresh explained that firefighters could use an older pumper truck -- due for decommission by the city fire department -- to provide the water for a series of temporary water-play areas in Madison.

Buresh proposed that two or three firefighters, and perhaps other adult volunteers, set up the fire truck and other equipment at four pilot sites between June 8-17 to test the program. If the adults judge that the splash zones are operating well, the summer project could continue for several more weeks at five more sites.

According to Buresh, the fire department could provide water hoses with spray nozzles, a deck gun and ground monitor for sprinklers, and water cannons and splash pads for children. Some locations will provide slip-and-slide tarps (one for younger children and one for older children) for water slides. Buresh reported that Raven Industries has provided the tarps.

The first pilot sites are scheduled at Baughman-Belatti Park from 2-4 p.m. June 8; Westside Park (MAC location) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. June 10; Memorial Park from 2-4 p.m. June 15; and Totland Park from 6:30-8:30 p.m. June 17. The Baughman-Belatti and Westside Park sites would include slip-and-slide play areas.

In the proposal, project supporters had stated: "After those (four sites) are completed, we could assess whether we wanted to pursue more events at different locations or continue rotating through the same locations."

The proposal also stated that the splash zone dates are subject to change based on the availability of locations and volunteers.

Among the splash zone expenses are fuel to operate the fire truck, water provided by the city, and the operating hours for the fire truck. Buresh said the fire truck was scheduled for sale by the city and the fire department already possessed most of the fitting, hoses and water equipment. The city may need to purchase the splash pads and water cannons.

The splash-zone organizers plan to ask the Madison Parks Department to inspect the play areas and remove any branches and other debris before the events. They also will request that the play areas have mowed grass and some trash bins and picnic tables available

If the project is successful, the supporters will consider scheduling other splash-zone sites that include the green south of the community gardens from 2-4 p.m. June 22; East Center Park from 6:30-8:30 p.m. June 24; Woofland Park area from 2-4 p.m. June 29; Madison Middle School area from 6:30-8:30 p.m. July 1; and the Dakota Prairie Playhouse from 2-4 p.m. July 6. The middle school and playhouse splash zones are considered available for slip-and-slide play areas.

Buresh said individuals can call him at 605-759-7346 to volunteer their help, and businesses can also contact Buresh about contributions to help pay expenses.

Buresh asked the city commissioners for permission to use the fire truck, park areas and water hydrants and water. Brad Lawrence, city utility director, told the commissioners that municipal water department personnel could set up meters at the fire hydrants to track water use.

The city commissioners gave their approval for setting up splash zones at the first four sites on the proposed schedule.