GREENFIELD — City officials will consider borrowing nearly $2 million to build a splash pad at Riley Pool.
Buzz Krohn, the city’s financial consultant, this week asked the Greenfield City Council to consider using about $260,000 of economic development income tax funds to pay for the design phase of the project and to seek a nearly $2 million loan to finance construction of a splash pad officials would like to open by summer of 2018.
Once the city borrows the $2 million, officials will take $260,000 of it to replace the economic development income tax funds used to pay for the design phase.
For months, community stakeholders have been making plans to build a splash pad south of Riley Pool. Last month, a conceptual plan for the project was unveiled to the Greenfield park board. Those plans, which call for a curved splash pad with spray features and dump buckets for kids of all ages, were presented to the city council this week.
Greenfield Parks and Recreation Director Ellen Kuker said building a splash pad shows residents their city officials are listening to them; upgrades to the local pool have been on visitors’ wish lists for years.
While surrounding communities have added slides, splash features and lazy rivers to make their community pools feel more like water parks — features that are attractive to young families — Greenfield’s city-owned pool has seen few updates since it opened in the 1980s.
Updating the pool was a top request among residents surveyed about future plans for Greenfield’s parks a few years ago. Building a splash pad is also included in city goals for downtown revitalization and community development.
“It’s more than just a splash pad,” Kuker said. “We have the opportunity to put something beautiful out there.”
The park board would like to hire a contractor to design the project by the end of the year. City council members will need to appropriate money for the design before then.
The city would start the process of borrowing money to pay for the project in 2017, with construction on the project beginning as soon as the pool closes for the season next year.
The council took no action this week to provide financial support for the splash pad, but council president Gary McDaniel said he supports the proposal.
Families leave Greenfield to visit other splash pads, and building an amenity for young families could result in more moving to the area, he said.
“We know we have to do things to attract young professionals and young families,” he said. “If it’s built, it will be used, no doubt.”
By waiting until next year to seek a loan for the project and using city funds to cover the design cost, the city will be able to avoid paying interest for several months, Krohn said.
The proposal won’t need to go before voters for approval because it’s less than $2 million.