When can we splash? Town splash pad still just a plan

by Geoff Fox

In 2018, speaking as a citizen, former Mayor Dan Murphy made one of the first mentions of the Town of Hancock operating a splash pad instead of building a new pool. A few years later, that discussion intensified as officials started looking into grants for a splash pad.

Last September, town officials officially decided on moving forward with a splash pad.

Town Manager Mike Faith said the town had applied for grant money to develop the pad, but for some reason, none of the previous administrations had executed the grants.

Faith said a Request for Proposals (RFP) is being prepared with Councilman David Kerns’ help. Kerns has led the effort to get pool plans and quotes up to this point.

“I know we talked about that a while ago but it just kind of got pushed down on the priority list because we had a lot of other things going on,” Faith said.

In August 2015, the late Stanley Fulton donated $150,000 to the Town of Hancock to use toward a new pool and over the course of the years; it has become a talking point among residents.

People on social media have claimed the town has spent the money on other projects or just keeping the money instead of building the pool.

The town is holding on to the money and it is still earmarked for a pool or, in this case, a splash pad.

Faith said the money is still sitting in the bank account and “hasn’t been spent on anything else, hasn’t been used for anything else.”

That money is being reserved, but in the general fund, but separate so the town knows it’s being held back for a specific purpose.

“It will get spent on a pool or splash pad eventually, we just haven’t gotten to it yet,” he said.

Faith said he understands people are frustrated the town hasn’t built a pool and Fulton gave the town the money many years ago.

“In fairness to the current mayor, I mean we kind of inherited this problem and we are working on it, it just takes a lot of time,” he said noting the splash pad or pool would cost more than $150,000.

Based on other pools in Washington County, the town has to figure how to fund the splash pad or pool because most of the ones in the county operate in a deficit.

“It’s not going to be a money-making pool,” Faith said. “All the pools operate as deficits, so that’s why we like the idea of a splash pad.”

The advantages of a splash pad would include not having lifeguards and lowering the town’s liability insurance.

If people like the splash pad that would be fine, Faith said, but if the public would still want a pool after having the splash pad, then town officials would talk about that “later on.”

When the splash pad is built, it will occupy the footprint of the previous pool, closer to the eastern end.

There is also a plan to refurbish the former pool’s bathhouse so the restrooms would be available for park goers as well as hikers and bikers.

The small building where the bathrooms are currently located might then possibly be demolished, Faith said. The Lions Pavilion restrooms would remain available.