Austin to add splash park at pool

Published 7:18 am Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Austin Municipal Pool will have a new splash park by next year.

The city of Austin approved Monday to advance funding to Austin’s parks and recreation so that the department can break ground on the project this year, rather than wait for a four-year Hormel Foundation grant to pay out.

The Hormel Foundation originally approved a $150,000 grant to be dispersed to the city in four payments through 2012 to fund construction of a splash pad — a water playground.

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Parks and recreation director Kim Underwood asked the Hormel Foundation to advance some of the payments and the city to lend the remainder because the project could not be parceled out to match the grant’s funding timelines.

The city council voted 4-2 Monday, with council member John Martin absent, to advance the $30,000 which will be repaid to the city by the foundation in 2012.

Council member Brian McAlister voted against the resolution because of “budget issues.” Citing another potential blow to the city’s funding if Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s unallotment is reversed, McAlister said, “We might really be in pain, and we can live without a splash park for a year or two.”

Echoing the sentiment was council member Marion Clennon who voted nay. “We need to evaluate our wants and needs and just focus on our needs,” she said.

Council member Jeff Austin commented that the splash park would be an asset to city life. “At little or no city cost, we are adding more use to the municipal pool.”

The splash pad will be built this year where a playground currently stands near the pool.