Noon Lions break ground on splash pad project


GONZALES — The Gonzales Noon Lions broke ground on their highly-anticipated splash pad Tuesday afternoon. It has been two years of planning and fundraising for the Noon Lions, as they worked tirelessly toward finding funding for the project.

In order to bring this project to fruition, the Lions had to approach Gonzales City Council for approval of the project. When council approved the project, the club launched into fundraising for the splash pad, collecting all but approximately $20,000 of the $360,000 needed to complete the project.

The club was able to realize this project through the generosity of several non-profit and corporate sponsors, such as: Lions Club International, with a donation of $100,000; Gonzales Economic Development Corporation, with a grant of $125,000; Gonzales Area Development Corporation, with a $72,000 pledge. Other funding has come through the generosity of several local businesses and private sponsors.

The pad was designed and is being constructed by VORTEX, out of Houston. The company specializes in splash pads and has built many in this region.

VORTEX Regional Sales Manager Avery Croteau spoke to the Noon Lions Club back in the spring and shared a presentation on the equipment and design elements involved in the much-anticipated and said, a splash pad can impact the quality of life for a child and even for adults who want to get out there and play with their children or grandchildren. He said he has seen children of all ages enjoy and benefit from splash pad play.

According to Croteau the splash pad is not just water spraying; but there is more involved for the development of children and promoting interactive and collaborative play.

"It's sequencing and moving around the splash pad helping to develop physical skills they will learn over the course of their lives," Croteau said. "It also helps with cognitive development, cause and effect, the action and reaction."

Croteau said a splash pad also is a sensory experience, with varied textures of the water, from feature to feature.

"Lastly, it teaches children to be together, to play together, to share and that's important in any community," Croteau said.

The splash pad VORTEX has designed for Gonzales comes complete with 16 play areas and 32 different water effects.

The pad will be approximately 3,500 square feet and under health department regulations could accommodate 350 children for play, with 10 square feet per child to play in; but the recommended comfortable play area is 25 square feet per child – for a more enjoyable experience – so roughly 140 children could play on the pad at once.

Features are to include a sail boat with a water cannon, a turtle silhouette, a rotating fish, bell silhouettes, "spidey" sprays – with water "legs" like a spider – water jets, water geysers and many other sprays and water dumps.

For toddlers there will be a low-flow "Water Journey" when water can be dammed and pooled for shallow play, giving children a look at life-like stream behavior as water encounters small creeks, flood plains, ripples and cascades.

The design also includes two interim spray caps, which can be upgraded later, if the Noon Lions decide to expand the splash pad.

The splash pad is set to run on a time clock and by activation. The pad will come on in the morning and shut off in the evening – and when children arrive to play they will simply press a button and the pad will come to life.

The splash pad is being built with a command center with a controller and elaborate filtration system, which tests the water and will stop the splashpad from functioning, if a defect or contaminant is detected.

According to VORTEX the splash pad is water and energy efficient. The pad's design reclaims and reuses 98 percent of the water it pumps and filters, making it efficient. He said all water loss is from evaporation, wind and diaper/suit absorption. Loss in minimized by an outer buffer. The pad at its busiest will push 100 gallons of water per minute. If cycling under less demanding play situations the pad will push and reuse about 70 gallons per minute.

Other features of the pad are: ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, rust proof and UV resistant stainless steel features, bolt cover to stop little ones from stubbing their toes and many other features.

The Gonzales Noon Lions are looking forward to the community being able to utilize the splash pad for a few weeks, before it is closed for winter.