Southborough may be 25% water, but that doesn’t mean there’s a place for residents to swim. Tonight the Recreation Department will go before Selectmen to float a proposal that would give kids in town if not a place to swim, at least a place to splash around.
Recreation Director Doreen Ferguson will tell Selectmen tonight she wants to build a playground and splash pad on land the town owns at South Union School. “There are no recreation areas on the south side of town,” Ferguson said. There is a playground at Finn School, but non-students are not allowed to use it while school is in session.
Ferguson said the play area would target younger kids – preschool through first or second grade. The splash pad would have fountains installed on a padded surface. The fountains would be on sensors to minimize water waste.
Ferguson estimates the cost of the playground and the splash pad would run about $125K. She hopes to use funds from the Community Preservation Act to help pay for it. Use of CPA funds would need to be approved by voters at town meeting.
When we talked a few weeks ago, Ferguson acknowledged that building the play area at South Union School may be a tough sell. The building is currently occupied by the Recreation and Facilities Departments along with the Arts Council. Selectmen in the past have expressed concern about maintenance costs, and some in town have suggested we sell the building.
But Ferguson sees the play area as an opportunity to revitalize the space. “We’re trying to establish the building as a place for residents and kids to go,” she told the Community Preservation Committee last month. “We want to make it come alive.”
Ferguson told the committee that the Rec Department could use the play area to offer additional programing. “If the Rec Department is allowed to flourish, it could help offset the cost of the building,” she said.
Ferguson said her department has met with neighbors to discuss the idea, and most are supportive, although there are concerns about parking, noise, and traffic.
“The town desperately needs something like this,” neighbor Steve Prior told the CPC. “Especially on our side of town.”
Ferguson said she’s also heard the concern that the splash pad might draw too many visitors from out-of-town.
Northborough and Hudson have town-run splash pads. Ferguson said they both see heavy use.
Ferguson goes before Selectmen tonight at 7:30 pm in the Town House Hearing Room (second floor). The meeting is open to the public.