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Alpena Rotary Club pondering splash park improvements

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz A large dumping of water spills down on children who visited the splash park at Starlite Beach Park in Alpena on Wednesday. The Alpena Rotary Club and City of Alpena are working together to make improvements to the park over the next three years.

ALPENA — The splash park at Starlite Beach could get a facelift in the next couple of years, as the Alpena Rotary Club intends to raise funds to make additions and improvements to it.

The splash park and the nearby amenities are heavily used when the weather allows, but remain in good condition.

The popularity of the water features have led Rotary to begin fundraising to reinvest into the splash park.

Stacey Parr, who becomes Rotary president on July 1, said the use of the park has surpassed the club’s expectations. She said the park’s popularity and the area’s affection for it, motivated the club to begin to raise money for future improvements.

“It is wonderful to see buy-in from the community since it opened and to see the pleasure it provides so many people is really heartwarming,” Parr said. “If we can expand it, and bring more joy to people, we certainly want to do that.”

At this point, the project is in its infancy and there are no concrete plans on what the expansion would consist of, Parr said. She said Rotary has a three-year commitment toward the project and a newly-formed committee will soon hash out the details of the project.

Parr said it is possible that some of the money raised for the splash park improvements could be used in ways that aren’t directly tied to the water features, and the club hopes that some new water toys are added.

She stressed that right now, nothing is definitive and the project could evolve over time.

“It could be upgrades to the aesthetics of the park or upgrades to the mechanical aspects of it,” she said. “It’s possible, although it wasn’t part of our initial discussions, to blend the two ideas together.”

The splash park opened in the summer of 2018 after Rotary raised money for it and other partners, such as the City of Alpena, the Alpena County Youth and Recreation Fund, Besser Foundation, MBank and Alpena Agency helped to make the splash park a reality.

The city also received a $250,000 Michigan Department of Natural Resource Trust Fund grant, which improved the beach area and added amenities up and down the beach.

Alpena engineer Steve Shultz said the park’s initial design allows for the water features to be easily removed and swapped out. He said purchasing new water features would allow the city to exchange different ones in and out when necessary.

He said during discussions with Rotary, an idea surfaced that included adding another smaller pad that could feature water attractions for younger kids.

“We discussed a children’s park next to the one we have now that would be for younger aged kids and have features that are fitting for them,” he said. “Right now, everything is a moving target and I think we need to sit down and decide what we want in the end.”

Another upgrade that is badly needed is a new circulation system, Shultz said.

Shultz said when the current one was designed, the city underestimated how much water would be used. He said a smaller system was installed to free up more funds for the water features, but now, a new circulation system is needed.

Despite its heavy use during the warm months in Alpena, and the abuse winter weather can take on outdoor infrastructure, Shultz said the park has held up very well. He said regular maintenance is needed, but the integrity, coloring, and functionality of the park is good.

“It has held up very well,” he said. “We are working on a little filter system now because we get a lot of sand in it, but it works great. When you consider all of the elements of weather, play, and heavy use, you develop some leaks here and there, but we fix them. Overall, it has held up well and we’re very happy with it.”

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