LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - A new splash pad in Lawton's Elmer Thomas Park could be in store for citizens looking to cool down this summer, but it's catching some heat on social media.
Tuesday night, the city council is scheduled to vote to give the engineering department the green light to start construction on the $400,000 project. The funding of the new addition to the park comes from the 2015 Capital Improvement Projects list, which was approved by voters. But some citizens wonder why they are building the splash pad now, when there are more pressing needs, such as repairs for roads and sewer lines.
City Councilman Keith Jackson says that the project will be completed, no matter if it is now, or a year from now. He says the money was specifically set aside for the splash pad in the program that voters approved, and there is no legal way for that money to be used for anything else.
He wanted to remind the citizens that this CIP also does have money to fund road repairs, sewer line replacements, and the building of the new safety complex, all on top of this splash pad.
"We also have to take care of the infrastructure," said Jackson. "We do have to take care of water lines, sewer lines, streets, roads and highways in Lawton, and we are address that. So this was a nice sized CIP program that encompasses a lot of projects, and this is one of them."
Jackson says he says is excited to see this project get started because it's something citizens can see and enjoy using with their families.
"We've always felt like youth activities here in Lawton has been lacking a little bit," said Jackson.
Jackson says citizens in his ward always ask him why the city doesn't provide more for the kids in Lawton.
"Every time we turn around we are being asked why can't we build this or build that," said Jackson.
Jackson is hoping with pushing forward the construction of the new splash pad at Elmer Thomas Park, some of those requests will be answered.
Parks and Recreation Director Jack Hanna says splash pads are a summer-time trend that most cities are moving toward, and moving away from pools.
"A splash pad is a lot less maintenance," said Hanna. "You don't have to worry about lifeguards because it's a flat level surface. It's just a big budget when you have to worry about the pool, the chemicals, the safety and the staffing of it, and it causes a big expense on that."
When asked about what would happen if Oklahoma went into another drought and the city had to conserve water again, Hanna says that they do what everyone in the city will be doing, conserving water and cutting down the usage of the splash pad. Jackson's hoping that if the council approves the start of construction that the splash pad will be ready before the freedom fest celebration in the park in July.