Let Me Be Francke: Dude, Where’s My Splash Pad?

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A public meeting was held in City Council chambers Tuesday night to discuss the location of the city’s new splash pad, a water feature that has been at or near the top of the community’s wish list for many years. It’s all but certain that a splash pad is coming; the big question is where to put the thing.

There are many possibilities, but the frontrunners are Maple Street Park, downtown Canby (primarily Wait Park, but there are a couple other options as well) and Legacy Park, though it appears to be a more distant third at the moment.

Listeners of our show will not be surprised to hear I agree with several who spoke at last night’s meeting — among them, Chamber of Commerce Director Kyle Lang, Gwynn’s Coffeehouse co-owner Mallory Gwynn and resident/”Pillar of the Community” (his words) Chris Calkins — in believing the splash pad should go downtown.

Let’s face it: However you do it, a splash pad is not an inexpensive proposition. Yes, the funding is there, but let’s not kid ourselves. It’s going to cost money. So, if we’re going to spend the money, why not do it in such a way that it brings dollars back into the community? Only locating the splash pad downtown has the potential to do that.

Downtown has the most parking, and it is the easiest to find. No one outside of Canby knows where Maple Street Park is. Believe me. I live outside of town, and I had to Google it. But downtown, it would be a draw.

And, only downtown Canby has a high concentration of locally owned small businesses, who would greatly benefit from the increased traffic, with residents regularly visiting the downtown corridor and new visitors seeing what downtown Canby has to offer.

Our downtown core has some great things going for it right now, but it also has too many empty storefronts and buildings. They sit there, sad, ignored, just waiting for a strong argument as to why someone should invest their hard-earned money in downtown Canby.

How often does the parks system have the opportunity to make such a direct and lasting impact on the city’s economic development? Almost never. It would be a shame to let it pass by, simply because another location was logistically easier, or offered short-term cost savings.

A splash pad at Maple Street Park would be of great benefit to the children and families who live near Maple Street Park. A splash pad at Wait Park, or anywhere else in downtown Canby, would benefit the entire community — families and business owners.

Let’s not take the easiest road or the path of least resistance, and please, for the love of all things holy, let’s not rush this important decision. Let’s be bold, thoughtful and forward-thinking as we plan our city’s path strategically and take this next step toward a brighter and more vibrant future.

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