Don Cunningham is seeking funds for a project designed to add light to a local park.
Work is set to begin in May on a new splash pad for John C. Fremont City Park. The splash pad, scheduled for completion by June 26, will have six different jet streams, six arch jets and a main center feature called a water jewel.
Earlier this month, the Fremont City Council approved a bid by Dostal Construction Company for $85,300 to complete the project. The project cost came in under budget, but didn’t include the cost of an LED lighting feature.
In order to bring some light to the project, Cunningham and other park advocates have been working to raise the $11,424 needed for the lighting.
The group’s fundraising efforts have nearly reached that goal.
“We just need a few more donations and we’ll have this met and we’ll have the lights on for the kids this summer,” Cunningham said.
There is a fundraising time limit, however.
“The LED lights need to be included in the final contract, due to the manufacturer on March 13,” Cunningham said.
Donations are needed by March 10. Those wishing to donate can send a check to Friends of the Fremont Area Parks and write the words “Water feature” in the notes line on the check.
Checks need to be sent to: First State Bank & Trust, 1005 E. 23rd St., Suite 1, Fremont, NE 68025.
The new splash pad is set to be completed before the John C. Fremont Days Festival planned for July 10-12, said Cunningham, who is president of JCF Days.
“We’re going to rearrange city park and we’re going to use this as the focal point,” he said. “As soon as the sun goes behind the trees, the lights are going to have an impact on that water feature and it’s just going to be greater as the evening approaches.”
The lights and water should help create a colorful display, Cunningham said.
“Beads of water would become dancing orbs of color,” he said. “Evening streams would become lines of liquid light. The water feature would be a dramatic addition to our community’s recreational offerings.”
Cunningham said this project is the first step in completing a plan assembled about a dozen years ago.
At that time, then-Fremont Parks and Recreation Director John Schmitz and more than 20 community residents developed a plan for the city park, which was later stopped.
In 2017, Cunningham and other local residents took on the task of implementing part of that vision — which would have meant constructing a water feature reminiscent of the old, iconic fountain that had been in the park for decades.
This newer plan would evolve into the current creation of an expansive splash pad rather than a traditional fountain. The new pad’s center fountain will shoot streams of water into the air, mimicking the old edifice.
But the splash pad won’t pose some of the safety and maintenance issues of a fountain.
“You just have to look out for that safety factor,” Fremont Parks and Recreation Director Kim Koski said at a 2018 parks board meeting.
Someone could slip and fall into the fountain, which Koski said could cause a possible drowning even in 6 inches of water.
By contrast, the splash pad will consist of a slab of concrete with jets, flush with the ground, with one-time use water and no standing water.
Koski said the splash pad can be power washed versus someone having to scoop out leaves and garbage floating in the water in a traditional fountain. The water wouldn’t need to be treated either, she said.
The 1,257-square-foot splash pad will be interactive and push 67 gallons of water per minute that will drain into a sanitary sewer. It will be activated through a foot activator that generally runs on a two-minute interval.
The city budgeted $90,000 for this project. The total cost — with LED lights included — is $101,424.
Koski appreciates the fundraising work that has been done so far.
“We are thankful and appreciative for Don’s efforts and it will be a nice added feature that wasn’t in the original budget,” she said.
Cunningham believes the splash pad will add to the park’s beauty and be a fun place where children can play.
“Since this addition will be done once in our lifetime, we want this water feature to invite visitors to pause. Sit. Take a load off. Relax,” he said. “We envision people, young and old, enjoying the atmosphere that an active water display creates.”
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