The sound of kids giggling and screaming filled the air Thursday at Lewis and Clark Park as children chased each other through the splash park.
The Belgrade water park opened last week and city officials are hoping new changes to the facility will relieve some of the problems that have plagued the zero-depth water park in the past.
City crews extended the concrete slab last year past the play area in an effort to keep grass from plugging up the system, City Manager Joe Menicucci said. Water circulates through the system and is treated with chlorine, but excessive amounts of debris would shut the whole works down.
“We haven’t had any problems so far,” he said.
Moms and grandparents were gathered on the park lawn Thursday catching up with friends and neighbors.
Dale Isaacs was watching his great-grandson frolic in the jets, streams and waterfall features and said the splash park is great use of public money.
“It seems like it has minimal expenditure for all the people that it helps,” he said. “It certainly is a wonderful idea. They can spend their money a lot more foolishly.”
Kim Edmister drives from Bozeman with her friends and children about once a week to use the park.
“It’s a really nice thing and I don’t know why Bozeman doesn’t have one,” she said. “We go to the pool in Bozeman a lot, but this is so different. The kids have a blast and when they need a break from the water, they go to the playground. Heck, if it’s hot enough, I go in there, too.”
The splash park came online in 2006 after a years-long quest by Friends of Belgrade Pool to raise money for a swimming pool. It is, the Friends say, Phase I of a three-phase project, but at this point, it is the only one serving the city’s overheated youth.
It also gives busy moms a break during the summer, Patty Howard and Tess Miller said. The pair were lounging under a pine tree in lawn chairs catching up on events.
“They can play and you don’t have to worry about them drowning because it’s not deep,” Howard said.
“It lets friends get together and it gets the kids out of the house and way from the television,” Miller said. “It wears them out, too.”