July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Splash pad drought

Residents on the northwest side of the city have waited more than a year to see a splash pad open at Ray Mellert Park. City officials promised last year to build the splash pad — one of several improvements planned for the park — at an April 10 public meeting at Second Baptist Church, 451 Bronson St., which borders the park.

Residents were told construction would start in mid-July and the project would be finished by late summer.

Some of the improvements — a quarter-mile fitness trail and lighting for the baseball field — were done last summer.

But the splash pad and accompanying restrooms never happened.

City Engineer Patrick Patton said the project was delayed because it had to be bid three times, after the first two bids came in over budget.

Ground has been broken on the project and the foundation of the restroom installed.

Patton said construction would be completed next month, but said he didn’t have an exact date for when the pad would open.

Children play in the splash pad at Fred Greenwood Park, which was built in 2007. A slightly smaller splash pad is being constructed across town at Ray Mellert Park and will be finished sometime this summer. City officials had promised the project would be competed last year. (DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE)

“It will be open this summer,” he said.

Neighborhood residents had lobbied the city to build the splash pad — especially after the city’s only public swimming pool, at Memorial Park near Claggett Middle School, closed last summer.

Officials said the city couldn’t afford the approximately $1 million in needed repairs.

Patton said the Mellert Park improvements are funded by a $300,000 federal Neighborhood Revitalization grant.

The loss of the pool left only one place outdoors for kids to get some liquid relief from the summer’s heat — the splash pad at Fred Greenwood Park, built in 2007.

The problem was Greenwood Park was more than two miles away, on West Sturbridge Drive, near A.I. Root Middle School on the southwest side of town.

“There’s no place for kids on this side of town to go,” said Rubi Medley, who lives on West Union Street near North Court Street with her 7-year-old granddaughter.

Medley pointed out that many of the children who live in the Union Square apartment complex by Mellert Park lack transportation.

She said some families in the neighborhood did go to the pool, which cost $3 a day or $30 for a season pass.

To partially make up for the loss of the pool, city officials lowered the daily fee for the indoor pool at the Medina Community Recreation Center from $7 to $5 for non-members who qualify for the federal school lunch program and seniors older than 60.

“That’s too much,” said Medley, who was helping to distribute food at Second Baptist Church on Friday evening. “You might get to go once a month.”

The 2,000-square-foot splash pad at Mellert Park will be free — just like the slightly larger one at Greenwood Park.

That likely will be important to many families in the neighborhood.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the tract surrounding Ray Mellert Park is less affluent than the city as a whole. According to the latest estimates, the median household income in 2007-11 was $46,826 compared to $56,389 for the city.

The median household income in the tract surrounding Greenwood Park was higher — $77,241.

Medley said she was disappointed last year when the splash pad didn’t open, but was glad to see progress on the project this year.

“I’m pretty pleased with it,” she said. “You can’t rush progress.”

Councilman Brian Hilberg, whose Ward 1 includes Mellert Park, said he had hoped to see the splash pad open in time for a neighborhood block party planned for July 13, but he didn’t think that would happen.

Hilberg said he hadn’t heard complaints from residents about the yearlong delay.

“Everybody in Ward 1 is anxious to see it get open, but nobody’s really complained about it,” he said.

The city likely will plan a grand opening for the pad once it is complete, he said.

Tim Swanson, Medina parks director, said excavations have begun for the splash pad, as well as public restrooms.

“We had to readjust it and re-bid it,” he said. “That takes time, unfortunately.”

Swanson said the splash pad would have water features similar to those at Fred Greenwood Park.

A main circular portion of the pad will have eight spray features and a smaller circle will have five water features, he said.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.


How two neighborhoods compare        
The neigbhorhood around Medina’s Ray Mellert Park on the city’s northwest side is racially more
diverse but less affluent than the southwest neighborhood surrounding Fred Greenwood Park.
  Ray Mellert Park   Fred Greenwood Park   City totals
  off North Huntington Street   off West Sturbridge Drive    
  Census Tract 4081   Census Tract 4082.02    
Population 6,966   5,867   26,717
Under 18 1,614   2,039   7,704
65 and older 901   467   3,016
White 92.9%   96.3%   92.6%
Black 5.0%   1.7%   4.2%
Hispanic  3.5%    0.7%    2.3%
Other 2.1%   2.0%   3.2%
Households 3,100   1,925   10,204
  Family households 1,858   1,564   7,070
      with children 854   950   3,751
  Median household income $46,826   $77,241   $56,389
Percent residents in poverty          
  All people 11.7%   6.6%   13.3%
  Under 18 years 19.1%   8.9%   19.9%
  Total housing units 3,100   1,925   10,204
  Owner-occupied homes 64.1%   84.3%   66.7%
  Renter-occupied 35.9%   15.7%   33.3%
Median home value $160,400   $202,500   $168,600
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007-2011 American Community Survey