WAXAHACHIE — Just in time for the end of the school year, Waxahachie residents will have a new way to cool off this summer. Construction crews were hard at work to install the concrete for the new circular splash pad Wednesday at George Brown Plaza.

Splash pads are mini water parks where children can jump through jets of water, fountains or even spray water at each other. According to DFWchild.com, some of the cities in the area that have splash pads include Allen, Arlington, Cedar Hill and Euless.

“The Park Board and the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation partnered on different park improvements. The 4B funded and the park board developed the ideas of what the money would be spent on. Then 4B gave approval for everything, which included a splash park. A splash park is being built right now at George Brown Plaza,” Director of Parks and Recreation John Smith said. “The concrete should be poured this week, which means that upright structures can start going in.

"So completion time is just around the corner. We will as the city have to come in and do a little bit of final work around it. Some trim work with the brick, get the water meter installed and some backflow devices. We are not exactly ready to open right after the concrete cures, but we are very close.”

The park is looking to reopen around the end of June. The concrete splash pad will have water jets that will spray upwards; there will be some upright play units, a water dump bucket and a few large squirt guns. The splash pad will be on a timed system that can be activated by a button in the park and will run for about 15-20 minutes before shutting off.

The pad will be located near the street entrance and will take up about half of the plaza space. The remaining space will be left unchanged. It will feature picnic tables and seating under the shaded area covered by trees.

George Brown Plaza is located at 209 N. Jackson St. in downtown Waxahachie.

“Over the years we have looked at George Brown Plaza as an opportunity to do something in downtown. We just haven’t figured out what. George Brown Plaza is a beautiful plaza. It is underused, basically, because of its location. Most people don’t even know where it is,” Smith said. “So we thought that if could figure out something really flashy to there and to draw some attention to not only the park but to the person as well. We thought that this would be the perfect place. The park board really picked a good place.”

Project Funding

The project is a joint effort between the Parks Board and the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation.

According to a Jan. 28 Daily Light article, the Waxahachie City Council approved the use of $1.5 million from the development corporation in addition to bond funds budgeted for 2016-17 Fiscal Year to make park renovations possible. The development corporation identifies and supports the Waxahachie Civic Center and Sports Complex projects and also helps at times to fund projects that improve the quality of life for residents.

The funding has not only supported the improvements to George Brown Plaza but also to the 17 other parks that are throughout the city.

Upgrades at the plaza total $150,000.

The company behind it

The splash pad that will be featured in the park is from Vortex Aquatic Structures.

According to its website, Vortex has done more than 6,500 installations in 45 countries. Some these locations include East Roswell Park in Roswell, Georgia, Springtown Splash Pad in Springtown, Texas, the YMCA Sun n’ Fun Center in Lubbock, Texas and Gheluvelt Park in the United Kingdom.

“It is a good alternative to the pool in that the kids develop and structure their own play and their own timing of it,” Smith explained. “It is also significantly less expensive as far as personnel. Maintenance is almost zero because we are not going to be treating water. We are just going to be draining the water and spraying water. There are no lifeguards needed. There is no pool management or anything like that.”

Smith added that when wintertime approaches the splash pad can be turned off, drained and put through a freeze process to prevent damage from happening. It then can be turned back on in the spring with little effort.

Park History

George Brown Plaza was named in honor of Waxahachie City Council member, mayor and World War II veteran, George Brown. According to a marker at the park, Brown was first elected to the city council in 1970 and served for 32 years until 2002. He served as mayor from 1980 until 1983. The plaza was dedicated in his honor on June 30, 1998.

Matthews Park

The park will feature a half-mile hike-and-bike trail, a splash pad, a pavilion and a playground. The park will also feature an American with Disabilities Act approved swing that can be utilized by children with disabilities.

The developed portion of the park will be sodded and landscaped covering about two acres. The remaining seven acres or so will have native grass planted. The park located off of Garden Valley Parkway and Harvest Grove Drive. It is expected to open this summer, but no official date for the park’s opening has been set at this time.

“It is a tremendous asset for that side of town because we have very little service to that population north of 287. We have the Sports Complex and some smaller little pocket areas of open space,” Smith said. “To have that park it means a lot. It is a much shorter drive to take your child to enjoy a public playground and a public space now for everybody north of 287. It is great. It is going to be a beautiful park.”

Mathews Park Funding

Mathews Park is a joint venture between the city and Legacy Grove Development.

According to a Dec. 22, 2016 Daily Light article, the project was given approval by the city council at its Dec. 19, 2016 meeting. The city’s contribution to the project is $100,000 plus upgrade costs to lengthen the width of the sidewalks to 10 foot. Homebuilders, J. Houston Custom Homes and Bloomfield Homes are paying $1,000 per lot they build on in the adjoining development, which is a total of $135,000. Legacy Grove will fund the remaining costs of the $370,000 in the park project.

For more information about the city parks or park improvements contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (469) 309-4271.

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Contact Andrew at abranca@waxahachietx.com or 469-517-1451. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AndrewBrancaWDL or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AndrewBrancaWNI.