Want to make a splash? Niles mayor wants your ideas on funding a splash pad

Published 5:11 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2022

NILES — A local government official is asking the community for input as the City of Niles explores options for providing families with a fun, safe way to beat the summer heat.

City of Niles Mayor Nick Shelton took to his verified “Mayor Nick Shelton” Facebook page Wednesday afternoon to discuss with community members the possibility of bringing a “splash pad” to the city.

A splash pad is an outdoor play area with sprinklers, fountains, nozzles and other devices or structures that spray water, which have grown in popularity in recent years because they remove the need for lifeguards due to the lack of standing water.

In his Facebook post, Shelton noted that a splash pad is “not an inexpensive undertaking.” According to Shelton, neighboring Lincoln Township recently opened an 1,800-square-foot splash park at a cost of $270,000, which does not include annual maintenance costs.

“We have estimated that a splash pad in the City of Niles could cost upward of $450,000 to $600,000 depending on size, with $20,000 to $25,000 per year in annual maintenance and water costs,” he said.

The idea of a splash park has long been discussed by community members and leaders alike as a way for families to enjoy the outdoors amid hot temperatures. On Tuesday, the Niles Fire Department hosted a “cool off” event with its high-powered sprinkler in Riverfront Park, much to the joy of local residents. According to Shelton, having the sprinkler run for two hours cost the city approximately $800.

Per Shelton, money for a splash pad would come from the city’s general fund, the same fund that supports public safety department (police and fire), public works department (streets, sidewalks, tree trimming, etc.) community development and other miscellaneous expenses.

Shelton ended his post by asking City of Niles residents if they would support a Parks and Recreation millage on the November ballot that would help pay for a splash pad and ongoing maintenance costs.

According to Shelton, 1 mil would generate $240,000 per year and would put the City of Niles in “a pretty good position” for ongoing park maintenance including a spray park. 

“To put this in perspective, a $100,000 taxable value (not assessed value) home would pay $100 per year in taxes,” he said.

Shelton said that city residents looking to figure out what their portion would be would take their taxable value (not assessed value) and multiply it by the millage rate, and divide by 1000. 

“For example, if your taxable value is $50,000: ($50,000 X 1)/1,000 = $50 per year for up to 20 years,” he said.

Shelton said that the other option would be to pull it from the general fund, a source that Shelton described as “limited” due to the many departments that rely on it. 

He added that a splash park in the City of Niles would be used heavily by City of Niles residents as well as members from our neighboring communities. 

“City of Niles residents, however, would be the only ones paying the millage,” he said.

Read the full post here.