Building Better Communities Through Water-Inspired Play Areas

By Michele White CAE, IOM | Posted on September 13, 2019

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Since 2014, NRPA and the American Water Charitable Foundation have partnered to support 14 NRPA grants to American Water communities throughout the country to support nature and water-inspired play spaces. These investments, which total nearly $2 million, make a profound impact on communities — especially in areas like Coatesville, Pennsylvania, which was a 2017 grantee, where residents once again have a safe space to gather with family and friends.

Not long ago, the swimming pool at Palmer Park — a fixture in the community — was surrounded by a chain-linked fence and barbed wire. But, thanks to the Building Better Communities program, the area now features a unique nature and water play area that provides opportunities for children, and adults, to experience the outdoors in a fun, interactive environment. Additional information about this investment and the broader Palmer Park renovation is available here.              

Today, we are excited to announce the recipients of the 2019 Building Better Communities grant program:

  • Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District in Huntington, West Virginia
  • City of Alton Parks and Recreation in Alton, Illinois.

The grants to each community will be used to create community-focused, water-inspired play areas. 

Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District will create the St. Cloud All-Inclusive Splashpad, which will provide an accessible water experience at a local park to families of all abilities. It will be specially designed to accommodate those with mobility issues and other disabilities, creating equal access to water play. To ensure those in their local community are learning to be future water stewards, educational programing on water quality and environmental conservation will be held at the park. Environmentally friendly design elements, including recirculation systems, bioswales and permeable surfacing, will be incorporated as well.  

City of Alton Parks and Recreation will create the first-ever water play experience for its community. The city sits on the Mississippi river, but due to flood walls, it does not have access to the river and does not have a public pool or splash pad. The city of Alton will create a recirculation splash pad that overlooks the river to allow its residents to enjoy water in a natural setting. This will also provide the opportunity to educate the community on water stewardship. The project will overlook the local Melvin Price Locks and Dams and educate the public about the importance of the Mississippi River and how it impacts the community. 

We look forward to the positive impacts these projects will have for their communities and encourage communities everywhere to explore the wonders of the outdoors and nature through their local parks and recreation.   

Michele White, CAE, IOMis NRPA’s Conservation Program Manager.