BRISTOL, Tenn.—The Junior League of Bristol is within $2,100 of reaching its $100,000 goal for the biggest fundraiser the organization has undertaken and the co-chairwomen of the splash pad project said they can’t wait for it to get underway.
“We have several projects we’ve done over the years, but this is by far the most amount of money we’ve ever raised for one project,” co-chairman Nicole Hughes said Tuesday. “We just started raising the funds in August—we’re amazed and thankful at all the community support this project has garnered. The fact that we’ve been able to raise the amount of money we have so quickly speaks to the generosity and hard work of the Junior League and the community.”
The money raised will go toward a splash pad -- a recreation area for water play that has little or no standing water -- at Steele Creek Park.
Because of the low water level, it can be operated without lifeguards or attendants. The surface is usually concrete with a non-slip finish or rubber matting. Splash pads also incorporate water features that combine the sensations of flowing, misting or jetting water.
Last August, City Council approved a resolution to enter into a public/private partnership with the Junior League to fund construction of the splash pad, which is expected to cost around $225,000. The Junior League committed to $100,000, which will be matched by the city.
Terry Napier, the city’s parks and recreation director, said he’s excited to get started on the project.
“We can’t start work on the actual pad until the Junior League has secured all of their funding,” he said. “But we can start work on the infrastructure. The contract has been awarded for the company to install the splash pad; I’m just waiting on the city’s engineering department to do a formal site plan—as soon as I have that I can send it to the contractor, at that point everything is ready to go.”
Napier added that the Rotary Club has donated money to build a shelter next to the pad.
“I have that check in-hand,” he said. “This is an awesome community and so many people have stepped up to make this happen. For a town our size to have this park, the tennis courts and to be able to double the size of the Nature Center later this year is amazing.”
Sarah Phillips, the other co-chairwoman of the project, agreed and added that she thinks the splash pad is more than just a place for kids to have fun.
“Tennessee and Virginia are working to get kids—and adults—more active to reduce things like Type II diabetes,” she said. “The splash pad is a great way to get kids moving in the outdoors in a way that’s fun. It’s also an investment in the community. Nicole and I are both transplants to Bristol—it’s our home now—but it hasn’t always been so. Something like a splash pad is a great draw for people who are looking to move into the area—it’s a No. 1 seller for people with families who are looking to relocate.”
The 3,000-square-foot pad with 23 water features will be at the front entrance to the park.
“We want to utilize the space in the most cost-effective way,” Napier said. “The in-ground tank has to go between the pump house and splash pad—there will be a shelter in the corner—and the parking lot will be around where the soccer goal is located. People will still be able to come and kick a soccer ball around—we’re keeping the goals—so there will be something for people of all ages.”
And Phillips said there is still opportunity for people to donate to the project.
“We’ve sent out letters, we did huge follies this year and we’ve have a place on our website where people can donate,” Phillips said. “This last little push for funds will help to secure our commitment to the city of Bristol and to the splash pad. In order for the community to take ownership for the project, there are different sponsorship levels—anywhere from $50 for a droplet donation that will help provide water nozzles for the equipment to a tidal wave donation of $1,000 that will help provide the funds for a water spraying arc.”
The projected opening date is early summer, according to Napier.
Those who would like to donate can do so at www.jlbristol.org or by contacting Hughes at [email protected] or Phillips at [email protected] All donations are tax-deductible.