The pool will be a thing of the past, where the latest trend in beating the summer heat will soon take shape

By mid-July, neighborhood children will be scampering through mini geysers and aiming squirt cannons at each other on a new “sprayground” at Ridgewood Park.

If the word “sprayground” is new to your vocabulary, think kiddie toys at water parks — tipping buckets, waterfall arches and places for parents to sit and watch as their children get sopping wet. It will even have separate play areas for tots and big kids.

Funding for construction comes from bond money voters approved in 2003. The Dallas Park and Recreation Department determined the some of the city’s older community pools — such as the one Ridgewood used to have — were not up to current codes, and decided to start replacing them with spraygrounds.

“They don’t require lifeguards, they’re less maintenance and less operational costs, and it’s a new trend,” says Louise Elam, Dallas Park and Recreation Department manager of facility development.

A playground full of water toys will be a welcome change from the huge span of grass that replaced the pool when it was removed, says Susan Edgely with the Ridgewood Park Neighborhood Association. The Ridgewood area has lots of families with young children who will be excited about the prospect of a sprayground, she says.

“I live by the playground and take my kids down there — we’re within walking distance,” Edgely says. “During the summer, we visit different parks across this area, but many times we’ll just walk down the street and go to our park.”

Edgely says the updates to the playground already are a vast improvement, and the addition of a sprayground will probably keep her and her 3- and 5-year-olds from venturing to other parks.

Plus, she feels better about her children’s safety when they’re running around on a cushioned surface instead of swimming in three-foot-deep water.

“I worry about the pools,” Edgely says.

Ridgewood’s sprayground will be the first one built in our neighborhood. It will also be the first park in Dallas with a custom-designed picnic pavilion.

Eighteen picnic pavilions will eventually be built throughout the city with various architects drawing up the plans. Ridgewood Park’s was conceived by Ed Baum, the same architect who designed the award-winning Dallas Police Memorial. (Other custom picnic pavilions will be built later at Buckner, Casa View, Ferguson and Lakewood parks.)

Construction on the Ridgewood projects, which will cost $446,000, begins in February and should wrap up right about the time the summer heat becomes suffocating.


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