Papillion's Glenwood Hills Park has plenty of green space, and neighborhood residents such as Andrew Perry want to keep it that way.
“When there's snow on the ground,” he said, “you're going to see me out there laying down some cross-country ski tracks with my daughter.”
The park may have less open space, however, if a splash pad is built in Glenwood Hills near Nebraska Highway 370 and 84th Street. The water attraction would sacrifice space in the nearly 6½-acre park commonly used for sports and exercising pets, Perry said, and crowds, noise and traffic drawn to the splash pad would transform its peacefulness.
Papillion this year allotted $330,000 from keno funds for the project but hasn't picked a location. An item regarding its location hasn't appeared on a council agenda either.
Still, Perry and several other Glenwood Hills residents sounded off against building a splash pad in their neighborhood park during a recent Papillion City Council meeting after survey work at the park caught their attention.
Councilman Tom Mumgaard, a proponent of seeing through the council's plan to build more splash pads in Papillion, said Glenwood Hills would be a good spot because it has open space, easy access and a shelter. The park is also located on the south end of town, away from the city's existing splash pad at Schwer Park, 800 W. Centennial Road, he said.
Built in Mumgaard's Ward 4 in 2008, the Schwer splash pad is a popular destination for kids to cool off in summer, but it gets overcrowded and causes noise problems.
“To minimize the congestion at any one, they need to be in different areas of town,” he said.
Papillion now has two splash pads, the public one in Schwer Park and one at Shadow Lake Towne Center that was paid for privately by SAC Federal Credit Union.
A few years ago, the City Council discussed building a splash pad in each of Papillion's four wards, said Parks Director Tony Gowan.
Mumgaard and Troy Florance — who represents Ward 3, where Glenwood Hills is located — said Glenwood Hills Park isn't the only site under consideration, though it is the only one to undergo a preliminary site survey.
“There's one or two locations that are still being weighed,” Mumgaard said.
Glenwood Hills residents are frustrated the park is being considered, because a 2011 plan for Papillion's parks didn't identify it as a possible location for a splash pad.
Mumgaard said that's because the City Council in 2009 had voted against opening a splash pad in Glenwood Hills after residents raised concerns primarily about parking. That matter has since been addressed, with a nearby parking lot and a new sidewalk leading to the park, he said.
Glenwood Hills resident Johnathan O'Gorman said that doesn't stop drivers from using the neighborhood's narrow streets to reach the park and parking. A real estate agent who sells homes in the neighborhood, he fears that streets choked with traffic could cause home valuations to drop.
Florance called street congestion a legitimate concern and said he's taking into consideration the number of emails and calls he has received from Glenwood Hills residents. Florance said he supports moving forward with plans for additional splash pads in Papillion, but believes “it's simply a matter of selecting the right location.”
Councilwoman Lu Ann Kluch, who also represents Ward 3, said the survey work at Glenwood Hills revealed the park has the appropriate measurements for a splash pad, but she doesn't think it's “the right place.”
The water playgrounds — which generally feature water spraying up from the ground and down from showers — have proven controversial in other communities, but popular with kids and families.
Three years ago, residents of La Vista's Cimarron Woods worried that a splash pad in their subdivision would create traffic and parking congestion, among other problems. Since built, it's become a popular amenity with visitors.
Farther south in Sarpy County, the Springfield City Council is currently rebidding a splash pad project and extending its completion date in hopes of getting lower bids. The city has set aside $285,000 in next year's budget for the project.
Papillion community relations coordinator Darren Carlson said the city is glad residents care about the community and neighborhood. While a splash pad item isn't scheduled for a future council agenda, anyone who spoke at last week's meeting or contacted the city will be notified in advance if it appears on an upcoming agenda.
Mumgaard said a balance needs to be achieved between satisfying the desires of people who live near the park and using the park to its maximum to benefit the entire city.
“It is, after all, a city park. It is paid for and maintained by everyone in the city. There has to be a limit for how much control the immediate neighborhood has in the park,” he said.