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Rotary Club plans to build splash park
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splash park

The Rotary Club of Dawson County is planning the largest community service project in its history a children's splash fountain at Rock Creek Park.

"We've never done anything close to this magnitude," said Vernon Smith, president of the club for just 27 days. "We're hoping this will become a model for clubs in Georgia, nationally, and possibly around the world."

While still in the initial planning stages, Smith said the goal is to have the splash fountain ready for families by Memorial Day 2014.

Features will include a 41-foot non-slippery surface, 21 sprinkler heads, and several benches surrounding the Rotary Club's gold and blue emblem. The pad will sprinkle 12.5 gallons of fresh water per minute, using a kid-activated button so water is not wasted. And it will use a minimal amount of electricity to operate.

"The project is water-efficient, energy-efficient, and cost-efficient," Smith said.

After a presentation to members at its July 18 meeting, and receiving overwhelming support for the project, the club's board voted to spend an estimated $36,000.

"We put a lot of money into organizations in Dawson County every year, and we will continue to do that," Smith said. "This time, we want to create something lasting that recognizes the hard work that Rotarians do in this community. Service above self. That's what Rotary is all about."

Smith said he came up with the idea while watching his grandchildren play.

"I have six grandchildren, and there's nothing more fun in the summer than watching them get the water hose out and play," he said. "They have a ball."

He was also inspired by the splash pad at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. The Fountain of Rings at Centennial Olympic Park, built for the 1996 Olympic Games, is one of the most recognized and photographed landmarks in Georgia.

"We hope Rotarians will come from all over to take pictures of this," Smith said.

Rotary Club members will continue to maintain the park as an ongoing community service project.

"Our Rotary Club is very fortunate," Smith added. "It is because of fundraisers we did last year and the generosity of Northside-Forsyth Hospital, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, and everyone who participated in our golf tournament, that we have the funds to do this. All the money we raise goes back to the community."

At completion, the splash fountain will be gifted to Dawson County.

"This will benefit all families with little people in Dawson County," said Commission Chair Mike Berg, also a Rotarian.

Rotarian Brooke Anderson, general manager of Etowah Water and Sewer Authority said the splash park will be presented at the authoritys Aug. 6th session.

"We hope to provide the water for the project," he said.

Lisa Henson, Dawson County Parks and Recreation Director said there's still work to be done.

"While the splash pad will be a welcome addition to the park, we still have some work to do regarding the logistics of operation, maintenance and ongoing sustainability," she said.

County commissioners, Etowah Water and Sewer Authority, and Rock Creek Park officials must approve the project before construction can begin.