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Harry's Gang: Splash pad could be another Cloquet parks perk


July 24, 2020

Becky Gergen moved to Cloquet a couple years ago. She spends a lot of time with the 6-year-old boy in her life. She loves Cloquet’s parks, but since she has a pool of her own she doesn’t spend much time at The Beach at Pinehurst Park. Still, she brought up an idea for our great city park system — explored years ago by the city but which bears revisiting — that she posted on her Facebook page recently:

“Wouldn’t it be great to have a splash pad in Cloquet?” she wrote.

A splash pad, in case you didn’t know, is like a modern day version of running through your sprinkler in the front yard. Imagine the tennis courts at Pinehurst, but with waterfalls, small geysers, and sprinklers, with kids running around getting wet. It’s fun, especially for younger kids.

I chatted with Becky the other day, and she said she was surprised at the feedback her comment got. “I had no idea so many other people had already thought a splash pad was such a good idea,” she told me. She said she has friends in the Twin Cities who love their splash pads, and after moving here from Duluth a couple years ago realized that Cloquet was the perfect place for one. “We spend a lot of time in the parks in Duluth, but a splash pad wouldn’t work well there. There’s no real good place for one, but it’s warmer here and we have plenty of room for it,” she said.

I agree. A decade ago when Cloquet renovated Pinehurst Park, the community spent a lot of time and energy arguing between those who wanted a traditional concrete pool, and those who wanted a sand-bottom swimming pond. The sand-bottom pond, with sandy beaches and filtered water, eventually won out. The rest of the park has been extensively renovated over the years, too, with better parking, some terrific tennis courts and basketball courts, and the softball field.

All we need now is that splash pad.

Gergen made some pretty good points. She works with the disabled, and suggested that a splash pad is a good way to enjoy the water when it’s physically difficult to go into a swimming pool. I’ve seen many splash pads around the country, and I’ve seen many adults who like the wet fun, along with their children.

She also pointed out that the splash pad could become a regional draw. I agree. If we build one big and fun enough, we’d probably draw participants from all over the region. That’s not just hype, either: I spent a lot of time at the Beach at Pinehurst and was surprised at how many visitors are from Duluth and around the region. If we did it right, I believe it could become an even bigger gem. No one else has a splash pad nearby, and they are easier to operate and maintain than a pool. For example, one of the myriad reasons the pool didn’t open this year is that it takes two weeks to get the pool filled and the chemicals balanced. A splash pad would not take nearly as much effort. And while it probably needs to be attended, a splash pad doesn’t require lifeguards.

We’ve invested quite a bit of tax money into the parks; adding a splash pad seems like a good move. I suggested that maybe Becky Gergen should join the Parks Commission and explore the idea. She seemed reluctant to volunteer, but I got the feeling that she didn’t feel qualified to be on the commission, which is, of course, nonsense. If you get a chance, chat with her and encourage her to get involved. If we started soon, we could be splashing by next summer, maybe.

Pete Radosevich is the publisher of the Pine Knot News community newspaper and an attorney in Esko who hosts the talk show Harry’s Gang on CAT-7. His opinions are his own. Contact him at [email protected]


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