Splash pad discussions to continue

David Helms
Pontotoc Progress
Pontotoc Mayor Jeff Stafford said this week he will re-address  the issue of determining the best location for a splash pad in Pontotoc.
Aldermen began discussing the possible construction of a splash pad last spring.
The board of aldermen authorized Couvillion Design in Starkville to design a splash pad and discussions turned to the best place to locate the water fun attraction, which features concrete areas equipped with numerous sprinkler heads.
The city has budgeted $150,000 to build the splash pad this year.
Current debate centers around whether to locate the splash pad at the newly refurbished Howard Stafford Park or at some location in downtown Pontotoc.
Earlier this month alderman passed a motion to locate the proposed splash pad in downtown Pontotoc on North Liberty Street on property currently being used as a public parking lot.
At the January 2 meeting, Mayor Stafford told aldermen he felt the splash pad would benefit the downtown area more.
Mayor Stafford said he continues to weigh the pros and cons of where to locate the splash pad.
“Howard Stafford Park would be a great place, primarily because you already have a playground out there, and it’s more self-contained and off the street, away from traffic,” Stafford said.
“And the park already attracts folks who want to fish and walk.”
But what about the cons for that location?
“Some would argue that we keep putting all our eggs in one basket,” Stafford offered.
“And the splash pad is designed for kids 12 and under, so someone would have to drive the kids out to Howard Stafford Park.”
Stafford said there are several positive reasons to locate the splash pad downtown.
“We’re looking at any and all avenues to revitalize the downtown area,” the mayor said.
“The accessibility would be a positive, downtown is more centrally located and kids could walk or ride their bike to the splash pad.
“And it would create some green space downtown.
“Plus we’ve got the Tanglefoot Trail which will be opening this year, and we’re building the Off the Square Market.
“We’ve had some new restaurants open downtown, and more coming. The splash pad would be an asset to all these things.”
So what about the cons of locating the splash pad on North Liberty Street?
“It would be better to have a little more room, maybe to build an adjoining playground area,” Stafford said.
“And there’s the issue of traffic and safety for the kids.
“We would still have 15 parking spaces there, but it would definitely cut out a lot of parking, for things like the Bodock Festival.”
As for locating the splash pad somewhere else downtown, Stafford said that would mean purchasing property.
“The Carpenter property (which is school owned) has been mentioned, but the asking price is $160,000.
“It would cost lots of money just to tear that property down and many, many thousands more to renovate that building.
“We just don’t have that money right now.”
So, what’s the next move?
Stafford said he is scheduling a work session on Tuesday, February 5, at 6 p.m. (an hour prior to the regular aldermen meeting) to discuss the splash pad.
“This is a public meeting for input regarding the splash pad and the aldermen can give their feeling about the project as well,” Stafford said.