Grantville Council says yes to city water park
by Rebecca Leftwich
General Beauregard Lee appears to have correctly predicted six more weeks of winter in Georgia – snowflakes catching a ride on unseasonably cold March winds are hard to ignore, after all – but many Grantville residents went to sleep Monday night dreaming of summer fun at the city’s new splash park.
A large crowd spilled out of the meeting room and into the hallway at Glanton Municipal Complex, erupting into applause as the Grantville City Council unanimously approved Tom Moore Builder Inc.’s low bid of $151,995 to build a 3,200-square-foot splash park on the site of Grantville’s former public swimming pool at Post Street Park.
The vote came nearly a year after city council member Rochelle Jabaley first introduced the idea to her fellow council members, saying she hoped to see Grantville citizens enjoying their new recreation facility by Independence Day. Instead, concerns over funding, location and a host of other issues prevented council from moving forward and at last forced the proposed project to be put on hold until early 2013 – despite widespread support from the town’s residents and the full council.
At council’s request, City Manager Johnny Williams in January convened a citizen committee headed by Jabaley. Committee members chose the Post Street Park site and hashed out specifics, facing a public reversal of support by Councilman Barham Lundy and strong opposition from the city’s Recreation Advisory Board, which spokesman Ruby Hines said advocates the facility but strongly objects to the location.
In a rare show of solidarity Monday, council members united to give townspeople what they wanted: a way to keep cool in the sweltering Georgia summer.
But not before a more characteristic Grantville Council discussion – lengthy and intense and, at times, contentious – took place. Supporters from the town’s ranks were given a chance to address council members, including Mayor Jim Sells, who wore sunglasses throughout the meeting as a show of support.
“I want a splash park for Grantville,” said 8-year-old Alexa Kwon, who climbed a stepstool to make her request before council. “I want to take my friends there.”
Adrienne Griffin, who enlisted supporters to collect more than 500 signatures from splash park advocates, spoke from beneath the floppy brim of an enormous pink beach hat.
“We won’t grow unless we invite others in, and the splash park will do that,” Griffin pleaded, a striped beach towel flung over one arm and colorful charts breaking down Grantville demographics spread on the lectern in front of her. “Please tell the citizens and the children they are worth this.”
Greg Perkins of Aqua Play Solutions answered detailed questions about specifics and water safety from council, which talked alternate funding sources, lamented the small pile of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars earmarked for recreation and advocated for more projects during the hour-long discussion. Councilman Johnny Cooks challenged citizens crowding the tiny meeting chamber to be involved in other city business as well.
“If we don’t take those 500 signatures and move forward with other things, we’re doing ourselves a disservice,” Cooks said.
The actual vote took only a few seconds, and afterwards, a grinning Sells said amid applause that he expects the park to be completed by May.
Community activist Robert Allen, whose personal investment in the project included everything from visiting area splash parks to serving on the citizen committee, approached council to express his appreciation.
“I just want to thank you,” an emotional Allen told council members, calling each by name. “We spent a lot of time on it, we spent a lot of effort. I sometimes thought it was fruitless, but I kept going and kept meeting with all these people, and it paid off. I just wanted to thank you for coming through for us.”