There wasn’t any water in sight when more than two dozen officials from Athens’ government and civic organizations gathered in Kiwanis Park Wednesday morning.
But it was still a big day for the Splash Pad project.
Members of the Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club joined city officials, including the mayor and city administrator, to ceremonially break ground on the project this week just six months after it was first announced.
A splash pad, for those uninitiated, is a water feature that includes no standing water. The pads usually have nozzles that spray water into the air, buckets that drop water, rainbow tubes that spray water, mushroom showers, tree showers, etc.
There were 12 gold shovels which, according to Chamber Board Chairman and pastor at Athens Life Fellowship Church Mark Allen, represents perfect government in the Bible.
“It is like a perfect melding of us all coming together as a city. We are representing it by 12 shovels saying this is is perfect government, and that we do it together and that we work together and we can accomplish more together,” he said.
“I really believe the best days for Athens are ahead, I really do believe that. And as we continue to work together we will see even greater days,” he added.
The Splash Pad is a combined project by the Athens Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club, the Athens Leadership Institute (ALI, which is a chamber program), and the city.
Splash pads have become very popular in recent years at least in part because of the low cost of maintenance.
While organizers were able to turn dirt to get started, there is still fundraising to do. The project is about $50,000 short of its projected cost.
Enough has been raised to start the splash pad, but the rest of the project money is for items like fencing, parking, sidewalks and complying with the all-important Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules so that children in wheelchairs can enjoy the water.
One of the best aspects of the project, according to chamber board member Kim Hodges, is how it has become a true community effort. Donations have ranged from a child giving the money she received from the Tooth Fairy to a $25,000 corporate check.
This week, Girl Scout Troop 1999 brought in $67 … all raised in pennies.
If you would like to make a donation to the project, please call Kim Hodges at First State Bank, 903-676-1923.