Linton's Saron United Church of Christ wants to celebrate its 160th anniversary next year by making a splash -- quite literally -- in Humphreys Park.
Michael Roth, who co-pastors the church with his wife Erica, presented plans to the Linton City Council which, if accepted, would potentially install a splash park on Humphreys Park's west side. That park would be paid for entirely through donations by the church, which "wanted to give something back to the entire community," Roth said.
"This will cost the city absolutely nothing to build," Roth explained, estimating the effort will cost $14,884.
"We're not asking the city to pay anything to build it," Roth said. "And we've probably raised a third of that so far."
The Saron Church has sold "Remember When?" calendars which depict a different scene of Linton's history every month, including a shot of the Cine's opening day, a photo of the Salvation Army with kids lined up outside as well as the 1908 Police Department.
The calendars sell for $10 each, and all money goes toward establishing the splash park. The church has already sold 100 calendars, Roth said.
Roth suggested he did not want the Linton City Council to decide anything on the proposed project Monday evening.
"We have plenty of time, and I'd like you to really consider this, and think it over," he said. "In fact, I'd suggest you not vote tonight, because when we do this, whatever we do, we want it to be something that the entire community wants."
However, Roth added that should work begin fairly soon on the plans for the splash park, "we believe we could potentially have this ready and open by the hottest part of next summer."
The pastor noted plans call for the splash park to be a 20-foot-by-20-foot concrete pad which would contain 15 separate jets.
Those jets would spray water up, dousing kids at play, with the touch of a button.
Ideally, Roth suggested the splash park should be located near the park's west side, north of the miniature golf course and near the shelterhouse where a coalition of local churches distribute free lunches to area kids throughout the summer.
To ensure every child had at least one hot meal this summer, meals were served from noon to 1 p.m. free for kids 18 and under at multiple locations throughout the county.
In Linton, those meals were served at the west park shelterhouse, with the city covering rent and utilities.
The sites, underwritten by donations, volunteer help and federal funds, served lunch Monday through Friday from the start of summer breaks until Aug. 9, excepting a holiday on July 4.
The project's organizers would prefer the splash park not be part of the pool, at least insofar as kids having to pay an admission fee to utilize it.
"A lot of kids who participate in that lunch program can't afford to go to the pool," City Councilwoman Linda Bedwell said.
One thing Roth said the project would definitely require is a sidewalk.
"I always look at accessibility," he said. "And there should be no reason a child in a wheelchair can't enjoy the splash park as well."
While some splash parks include elements which rise above the ground, such as poles and portals which sprays rain down on those playing, Roth said he'd toured several splash parks, and found those kinds of additions generally ineffective.
"I went to about a half-dozen splash parks this summer, and all the things which were above ground looked really cool on paper, and visually -- but from my experience, the kids don't use them," Roth said. "It's just something to be vandalized, and we won't be able to watch those all the time."
Hence, he suggested organizers strongly prefer the splash park's jets to be below the ground, and thus safer and less susceptible to damage.
Roth added the splash park would, as proposed, be open about six hours per day from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
Additionally, the water spray would not be functioning full-time during those six hours. Instead, a button triggering the sprays would be placed at the site, allowing the jets to only spray for a limited time -- potentially five to 10 minutes.
"That keeps us from haphazardly wasting water," Roth explained.
While Roth estimated daily water bills for the splash park would run around $14, City Council President Tony Richards raised concerns.
"Who's going to pay for this? Will it be on its own meter? And will a sewer bill be included in it? If so, it's double that (water bill) so you're looking at $42, not $14, a day," Richards said.
The combined sewer and water usage, raised as a concern, was something Roth and city officials said would require further investigation.
However, Roth noted the splash park would, to a large extent, provide comparatively less sewer runoff. A holding tank could be installed as part of the platform, with some water running into the tank to be later used to water grass and plants in the park while the remaining portion runs into the sewers.
That water couldn't be recycled back through the splash park, however, without chlorination and additional chemical treatments, the way the A.M. Risher Pool does. That, Roth said, could add about $8,000 to the construction expense.