December 01, 2023

Splash pad committee to begin fundraising

As rough cost estimates increase, organizers identify grants to apply for

To help generate funds for the downtown splash pad, the committee spearheading the project told Newton Park Board members on Wednesday, June 16 that a GoFundMe page was created and shared new design renderings from the city’s engineering firm.

Graham Sullivan of the Splash Pad Committee shared the new layout of the proposed recreational facility, which has reserved the city-owned lot at 224 W. Third St. N. The committee liked the new design, which prominently features the splash pad in the middle of the parcel.

“The flow of it just feels right,” Sullivan said. “There are multiple sidewalks kind of coming off of the splash pad, giving people the ability to walk from one area to the next. There is a restroom with a shelter there, which we think is really important. Then that kind of open lawn area is nice to have.”

According to the concept drawings by Bolton & Menk, the splash pad includes a family fun zone, a teen action zone and a tot play zone. The renderings also feature public art installations wedged between limestone block bench edges. Park benches and street lights were added, too.

Newton Community Services Director Brian Laube said the trees included in the concept renderings may be a tad overblown, since staff don’t want to make a mess for themselves when it comes to fallen leaves. Laube also said the city doesn’t want citizens to use the adjacent Bank Iowa lot for parking their cars.

To separate the two properties, the city envisioned a curb section to keep cars from driving past parking spaces and also a raised planting area to detract pedestrians from cutting through the property. Sullivan said luckily employees take up most of the adjacent spaces in the parking lot during work hours.

With mock-up designs finished, the committee is focusing its efforts toward fundraising. Newton Main Street even set up a GoFundMe page, Sullivan said. The committee also submitted its grant paperwork to Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack & Hotel. Other grants have been identified, too.

Sullivan said the committee has a $200,000 matching grant already in place. The GoFundMe page is currently requesting $250,000.

“Ultimately, we would really love to see this project — honestly, if everything plays out the way we want it to and everybody’s kind of onboard with the design and we get approval from all of our necessary parties — we would really love to see this project start next year,” Sullivan said.

Prior estimates expected the splash pad project to cost upwards to $435,000. Sullivan said the rough estimates of the project were now somewhere between $500,000 to $600,000. Laube spoke with the landscape architect about recent projects similar to the Newton splash pad.

“It all depends on how elaborate things get up there. Is the building going to be open year-round? The restrooms? Does it need to be heated? Things like that. He threw out, overall, to do all of this work in the $600,000-plus range,” Laube said. “If things really get year-round restrooms and a lot of nicer amenities.”

Laube later noted the $600,000-plus rough estimate is for the entire project on the lot, not just the splash pad. Also, a detailed cost estimate has not been put together. The project is not at that point right now, he added.

Sullivan said the committee is raising money for the splash pad itself and also the mechanics of the system. Bryce Heitman, a member of the park board and splash pad committee, reminded his park board members the designs are just initial sketches. Any pros and cons people may have are appreciated, he said.

“Much more community input once funding allows us to get an actual design firm onboard to put an actual final concept together,” Heitman said. “This is just the city engineer concept to get the ball rolling.”

Melanie Humphrey, chair of the Newton Park Board, said she’s curious of the city’s cost for the project and didn’t want to take away from other goals.

“Because at the beginning the conversation was it was all splash pad committee, grant money, donations — we were going to go that route,” she said. “As we’ve expanded and grown this splash pad, which I knew would happen an that’s great I just want to make sure we have … funding for that.”

Laube reiterated Heitman’s point that it’s still early on, and a lot still has to happen before the city considers chipping in money.

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Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.