FAIRMONT — Just in time for summer, the splash park at Palatine Park is open and spraying water from every direction — down from flower-shaped fountains, sideways from sprinklers and even straight up from the ground. The new addition turned on the water for a soft opening last weekend, and it and the entire park will be open Saturdays and Sundays until construction is complete.
“I think it’s great that the kids have a place to come and play,” said Trista King, who watched her children play in the water Sunday afternoon. “Even if you don’t really have the money to go to the pool, you can come down here and they can have just as much fun.”
Parents sat on the picnic tables inside the fenced-in splash park and watched their kids as they ran through the fountains and sprays, put their heads under the flowers and even stopped jets of water with their feet and hands. King is happy to have a safe place for her kids to play, she said, and they asked when they would be able to come back before they left that afternoon.
“I think this is probably one of the best investments Fairmont has made for their children ever,” said Jami Miller, a mother who visited the park for the first time Sunday. “I love the fact that it’s free. The kids can run around. It’s beautiful. It’s a gorgeous view down here. It’s just really nice.”
Charlie Reese, director of the Marion County Development Office, said the splash park is not just for children, though.
“If you’re an adult and you want to go in there, go in there,” he said. “There are some tall spray things. It’s welcome to children and adults, and is ADA-accessible. Everybody is welcome.”
The water is clean and filters through a tank nearby, and each sprinkler and fountain component required its own system of piping. The fountains also turn off every so often to conserve water if no one is using it. Kids just need to run over and hit a button to turn it back on.
“What went into it was a lot of hard work,” Reese said. “The plumbers that did that did a fantastic job.”
Last weekend’s soft opening drew a large crowd, he said.
“It was packed. It was like the soft opening for the Three Rivers Festival. Ten thousand people is not a soft opening. That’s a major opening.”
A construction crew was previously there through weekends, but the county cut their work load down to 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, to allow the public to enjoy the space. Thrasher Engineering still has to put up around 11 light posts, new metal railings that will replace the old wooden ones, sidewalks, flag poles, curbs that will go along the parking lot, and then they have to pave the parking lot itself and install a storm water drainage system.
The county will also finish up landscaping and will continue working on putting up signs around town and near the interstate.
“There’s always something to do,” Reese said.
Reese hopes to finish up before the Fourth of July. Even though there is still work to do, Miller believes the park will start drawing families from Morgantown, Clarksburg and surrounding areas who want to enjoy what Marion County now has to offer.
“This would be somewhere that we come probably every weekend,” she said. “It’s gorgeous down here. We can sit and eat, we can play at the park. The guys can go fishing. There’s a skate park down there. All my kids skateboard. It’s real close, and it’s somewhere we’ll probably spend most of our summer.”
Email Chelsi Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.