The Waterloo Park District is working toward building a splash pad at William Zimmer Memorial Park.
At its meeting on Aug. 16, the park district board voted to apply for an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The board decided to apply for the maximum $400,000 grant, with the goal of using that money to construct a splash pad.
The OSLAD Program is state-financed and provides funding assistance to local government agencies to acquire or develop land for public parks and open space.
The Waterloo Citizens for a Pool group, which wants to see a community aquatic facility return to the city, lobbied the board to allow room for expansion in its plans for the splash pad.
Specifically, the group advocated for designing the splash pad so a pool could be added with minimal changes to the infrastructure.
That is not something the board endorsed.
“We’re strictly applying for it for a splash pad,” Waterloo Park District Board President Kevin Hahn said. “We don’t have any plans on expanding too much beyond that right now because we think what we can get with the grant will be about what we can afford.”
Despite that stance, WCP President Kim Ahne said the meeting went better than expected, calling it an “open conversation.”
“We came out feeling a little bit better,” he said.
The WCP also received good news because it recently found out it has been approved for a feasibility study on the pool project.
That means 80 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville students will spend this semester working to determine what the community wants in an aquatic facility and if it could reasonably be built.
As of now, however, the park district has no plans for anything more than a splash pad.
“We are not looking to get back in the pool business,” Hahn said. “I know the friends of the pool would like to see that. As a district right now, we’re not looking to expand into that with the response we’ve had from voters in the past.”
Hahn was referring to several failed attempts to get funding for a city pool through a referendum.
So, the park district is moving ahead with the splash pad, as it has already applied for the grant. It should get a reply from the state in January.
If it gets the grant, which would only cover a portion of the cost for a splash pad, it would then complete all necessary planning and hire a company to perform construction.
If all that goes well, Hahn predicted the splash pad could be open as early as the summer of 2021.