A splash of sweat dripping off the brow was not uncommon at Crossroads Regional Park Friday afternoon.
Less than a year from now, if plans hold, cool water will glisten in the sun as the best splash pad in the region attracts crowds to the new side of the park on Droke Road.
“I know it’s going to be a hit the day we open it,” Park Director Robin Baker told a crowd that included city and county elected officials, park commissioners and employees.
Not far from the new ball fields, shovels stood ready in a pile of dirt for the symbolic beginning of what might be the park’s most anticipated project ever.
“This splash pad is going to cover a lot of this area right here, but it’s not going to cover all of it,” said Baker. “We’ve got room to grow, to add on to the pad if we need to. I keep saying, it will be too small the day we open it. We’ll want to add on.”
The tentative timeline calls for the splash pad to open next June. The park board will hammer out the final details of splash pad features over the next few weeks, with a rendering ready for public view by October. Types of features to consider are showers and sheets of water from domes, buckets, wheels or other special features. Some pads feature a series of sprays or fountains gushing up from the surface.
The area will be fenced and will feature picnic pavilions for birthday parties and other gatherings.
The bid process is targeted for November with construction following in the late January to early February time frame.
Those dates are all subject to the challenges of weather and the supply chain.
The park is seeking sponsors for certain features in the splash pad to help stretch the available funds.
“The more help we can get with that kind of cost, the bigger we can make it and the more we can do throughout the rest of the park,” said Baker.
Mayor Tommy Irwin praised the park’s immaculate appearance and welcomed the big plans.
“Today is ‘kids win day,’” he said. “This is going to be fantastic for our kids.”
Alcorn County Board of Supervisors President Lowell Hinton praised the park’s development in recent years.
“I look around and say, where are we going to expand next, because I’d like to see us continue to expand and do things,” he said. “This is great. This splash pad is going to add a tremendous amount to it. Kids is what it’s all about.”
Baker gives much credit to Rep. Nick Bain for securing a state allocation of $500,000 for park improvements, which “probably is the largest amount of money the park has ever received as far as grants or money from the state,” she said.
Those funds will also help make possible new restroom facilities in the soccer and tennis courts area, a sand volleyball court, and courts for pickleball, one of the hot new sports across the country.
Baker is excited to keep the park growing.
“It’s growing in its usage, and we’re growing as far as the amenities and programs that we are able to offer, and we’re real proud of that,” she said.