With a spluttering surge, the splash pad at Millard Cooper Park in Sykesville sprang to life Friday, water spraying from the ground, cascading over umbrellas and dumping from a 50-gallon bucket with a resounding splash.
The first user of the new 2,500-square-foot splash pad was Mayor Stacy Link, who ran through the water features after the opening ceremony Friday morning, happily getting drenched in the process.
Soon, the town hopes, the park will be filled with people of all ages having fun and getting wet.
“That’s our main goal,” said Jared Schumacher, Sykesville’s circuit rider/grants manager. “We’re getting a lot of excitement from local residents and county residents.”
The splash pad opened to the public Friday after more than three years of planning.
Working with a pool manufacturer, several designs were discussed before deciding what worked best for the site, Schumacher said.
“It is an unusual landscape,” said Schumacher, noting the park’s three distinct natural terraces. On the lowest level, the park’s original traditional playground, with swings and slides, remains “very popular,” Schumacher said. The highest level features the park’s newest playground, which opened last summer and includes a zip line, a net climbing/spinning apparatus and other unique features. The splash pad was built between them.
The Sykesville Town Council approved the splash pad and awarded the bid to Hunt Valley-based DRD Pool Management in February 2020, and at the time anticipated it would open later that summer.
Schumacher said pandemic-related supply shortages delayed work on the splash pad. Work was completed in late summer 2021, and the town decided to wait until this summer to open it officially.
“We did a soft opening last year for two days,” Schumacher said “No official announcement, just word-of-mouth. Over two days, we had 100 kids.”
The splash pad cost about $300,000, half paid for with a Maryland Department of Natural Resources grant, awarded to the town in 2019, and the other half funded by the town.
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There is no sitting water or pools in the splash pad system. Instead, it recycles water to keep the water fresh. A pump house and 50,000 gallon holding tank were constructed on-site. A bathroom facility and outdoor shower nearby completed the project.
Like community pools, the splash pad will be open Memorial Day to Labor Day, with daily hours of 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“I think it is going to get a lot of use,” said Schumacher, noting that while there are other splash pads in the county, Sykesville is the only one that is free.
The splash pad is in Cooper Millard Park, between Sykesville’s Main Street and the growing residential and commercial area of Warfield at Springfield. Cooper Millard Park was the town’s first park, opened in 1982. Link paid tribute to the park’s namesake Cooper Millard, Sykesville’s police chief from 1964-1975, during the opening ceremony. Millard’s daughter and grandchildren were present Friday to help celebrate the splash pad’s opening.
Town Manager Joe Cosentini said with the splash pad’s opening, “things are finally getting back to normal. It’s nice. We are seeing a lot more activity in the parks. People feel more comfortable.”