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Vastwood to reopen to swimming, county trying for splash park

Vastwood Park might be wet and wild this summer, and for years to come, after the county announced its intentions to tentatively reopen the lake for swimming late this summer, while also announcing that it’s applying for a grant to build a new spray park.

The county is applying for a Land and Water Conservation grant that would fund half of the cost of building a spray park, or splash park, in Vastwood, which would potentially be located between the tennis courts and the upper section of the beach house parking lot.

“We had a survey what some additions some of the citizens of the community would like to see at Vastwood and that was on there quite a few times,” said judge-executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts.
“There’s a lot of surrounding communities that have those,” he said. “They are kind of popular right now.”

Most, if not all, of the seven counties in the Green River Area Development District have splash parks except Hancock County, he said.  Daviess County has something like six.
“It gives the kids a different outlet other than pools or a swimming option,” he said. “We do think it would be a good addition to Vastwood Park.”

Although the design of the splash pad is in the very early stages, Roberts said it’ll be much like others, where kids can run through water that sprays both from the ground and from overhead.

“There’ll be some ground units that spray water and there’ll be some above ground structures also,” he said.
And despite worries over big water bills, he said the system would be set up to filter and reuse water.
“The park that we’re looking at, if we do this, will contain a recirculation tank so you have minimum use of water,” he said.

Whether the county is awarded the grant won’t be known for a long while, and it hasn’t even been submitted yet, but Roberts said the county will determine the viability of the project based on the numbers.
“Obviously we’re looking at this in the total cost structure,” he said. “If it’s feasible we’ll move forward with it, if the cost basis is where we need it to be.”

Aside from the splash park, fans of water will have a familiar option when the county reopens the lake to swimmers this summer.
“It’s been several years since swimming’s been open at Vastwood so we’re going to try to step in that slowly and trial that a little bit and see what the interest level is to get back to swimming,” he said.

Like most other things, the county will have to determine what regulations will apply with COVID-19, but Roberts said they’ll follow those regulations and open if they’re able.
“If all that works out we would like to swim a few days a week in the month of July, maybe the end of June,” he said. “All this is really not concrete right now. We’re just kind of looking at what we’re going to do.”

By Dave Taylor

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