By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Arlington spray park slated for construction


Arlington residents have been talking about getting a spray park in South Side Playground, known as "The Fort," since 2008 when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl visited the playground and identified it as one of the city recreation areas in need of immediate attention.

From the time when the swimming pool was closed in 2003, along several other city pools, conditions at the playground have deteriorated. Now it looks like the spray park and other improvements may finally be coming to the neighborhood park.

At a community meeting last week in the Arlington Gym, representatives from landscape architecture firm Pashek Associates and the city presented final design plans for the spray park and additional improvements to the playground. The $1.8 million project will be completed in phases as funding becomes available with the spray park on the schedule to begin construction in the spring of 2016.

Using input from a May meeting of residents, Pashek Associates designed a Master Plan for the park for everything above the ballfield. John Buerkle and Elaine Kramer from the company presented those plans last Thursday.

Ms. Kramer said they "paid a whole lot of attention" to the input from neighborhood residents in designing the Master Plan. The $1.8 million budget is for the entire plan in three phases with the spray park first and fully funded.

The Master Plan has the existing bathhouse being rehabilitated for use at the spray park with a changing area and restrooms. The "splash pad" of the spray park will be adjacent to separate play areas for 2-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds. The park's design adds more grassy areas and trees along with a rain garden to capture storm water runoff.

The plan has a new basketball court to be constructed using a water permeable surface to capture more rain water. The surface will also be painted to accommodate other games such as pickleball.

Trees will also be added in the grassy areas around the park.

The splash pad itself will be 4,900 sq. ft. of "wet play" area divided into three zones: a Teen Action Zone; a Family Fun Zone; and, a Tot Play Zone. Each area will have age appropriate activities including water features that require cooperation among the kids to activate.

Individual water features will be able to be controlled by the kids and their parents, but there will be a water master control the park's staff will use to turn the water on and off. The spray park will have Citiparks staff during hours of operation.

Citiparks director Jim Griffin said Phase 1 will be completed in its entirety and construction will start as soon as the weather breaks next year.

Councilman Bruce Kraus confirmed the first phase was budgeted for and completely funded.

"This is not a wish list, this is a plan," Director Griffin said. "We're committed to it...This is the most important project right now.

"We don't view this as a place for kids, it's a place for families," he added.

The director said the goal is to have the spray park open in six months adding the time estimate was being "conservative." The construction of Phase 1 is divided into three components: demolition of the existing swimming pool; construction of the slash pad; and, landscaping.

In addition, new walkways and steps will be constructed to make the park more accessible.

As additional funds are identified for the project the playground and basketball phases will be completed.

Additional meetings with community members will be scheduled in the future to keep neighborhood members informed about the progress.


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