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Editorial: Greenwood hopes to set bar with new playground

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Greenwood has big plans for remaking the park where the city’s pool once sat.

The city plans to transform the five-acre park off Lincoln Street into an attraction that would include a splash pad, a sledding hill, walking trails and playground areas for both younger and older children. The city’s goal is to have the splash pad open by this summer, so local children don’t have to go another summer without anywhere to play in the water.

The splash pad area will be about 1,500 to 2,000 square feet and feature streaming jets of water. The city still needs to determine exactly what features it would have and whether it would, for instance, include mushroom showers or overhead buckets that dump water.

Families wouldn’t have to pay a fee to visit the new park and could use the splash pad by pressing a button to activate the water nozzles. The operating costs would be low, since no lifeguards would be needed.

Other features, such as more trees and walking paths, would be added over time. The pace of development will depend on how quickly the city can raise the money, officials said.

The park would be the first in Greenwood and the second in Johnson County to have fully wheelchair-accessible playground equipment and likely will include sensory panels and musical features that would stimulate autistic children.

“We’re looking to set an example,” city attorney Krista Taggart said. “We were starting from scratch because, when the pool was demolished, we had a blank slate. We want to set a standard with quality, top-of-the-line amenities.”

Mayor Mark Myers said the redeveloped park would be a big attraction to the Old Town area and a place where neighborhood children who used to walk to the pool could go to play. The city made a promise to the park’s neighbors that it wouldn’t neglect the property and would turn it into an attraction for children and families, he said.

Greenwood wants donations to help pay for the redeveloped park to lessen the cost to taxpayers and also increase community involvement in the plan to revitalize the Old Town area, Taggart said. Having sponsors shows that businesses back and are willing to invest in efforts to draw more people to the city’s downtown, she said.

“It spreads the cost around, but we’re also trying to spur new growth and new life in that area,” he said. “If we get buy-in from businesses with creating an amenity, we get further toward that goal.”

When the city tore out the old pool, many people feared that the site would be neglected. Officials vowed otherwise.

The plans that have been unveiled for the park show that the city is keeping its promise. The result will be a significant asset for the Old Town area.

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