GREENFIELD — The Riley Pool splash pad will feature free admission in an effort to cater to families with preschool-aged children and extended open times to keep them coming back

The splash pad, under construction now at Riley Pool, 300 Apple St., will have more open hours per day and be open longer throughout the year than the pool, because the no-depth water features don’t require lifeguards, officials said.

Kathy Dowling, a member of the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department board, said parks officials hope to have the splash pad open from May to October, weather permitting.

“That way, preschoolers can enjoy it long after the older kids start school and before school lets out in the spring,” said Dowling, who also serves on the board’s splash pad committee.

Though hours have not been set for the new facility, parks officials are considering setting the splash pad hours as same as Riley Park, dawn until dusk, said parks maintenance foreman Josh Gentry. Some extended hours could be possible if residents want to reserve the splash pad for birthday parties or other events, he said.

And the new amenity is likely to stay open well after Labor Day as well, Gentry said. The splash pad could stay open as late as Oct. 31, which is when parks employees winterize the bathrooms at Riley Park if weather forecasts haven’t forced their hand earlier.

Construction on the splash pad is underway, with water lines and electrical work installed by construction workers already, Gentry said. The first walls of the new facility are slated to go up next week, a step that makes the project feel closer to opening its doors, he said.

While they wait, officials are searching for an artist to add a local touch to the new facility.

The parks department is working to allow community members to make their mark on the project through a mural design contest, calling for local artists to create a 4-by-8 mural, which will be reproduced on a building that’s part of the $2 million splash pad project.

The back of the new building, holding mechanical equipment and restrooms, will face Apple Street, said parks superintendent Ellen Kuker. The splash pad committee, which includes Greenfield-Central High School pool manager and men’s swimming coach Mark Logan, Gentry and Dowling, decided a mural would make that part look more enticing, Dowling said.

Submissions can be submitted on 11-by-7-inch paper at the parks department, 280 Apple St., or emailed to ekuker@greenfieldin.org. The deadline for the contest is March 30; the winner will be announced April 15.

City officials have long planned to upgrade the Riley Park Pool, which was first built in the 1980s and has remained mostly the same since; a 2005 attempt to take out a $3.5 million bond to build a new water park, complete with slides and a lazy river, was vetoed by former Mayor Rodney Fleming.

A second project to renovate the existing pool and its amenities is planned to begin in the fall of 2018 and open in May 2019, Kuker said.

That project will add shade structures, cabanas, renovated bathrooms and locker rooms, as well as a reconfigured admission area.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.