Niles mayor gauges public interest in funding a splash pad for city

NOW: Niles mayor gauges public interest in funding a splash pad for city

NILES, Mi. -- The Lincoln Township splash pad opened to the public on Monday, and even at 11:00am on Thursday, it was packed with families and young children, all eager to soak up some fun this Summer, and its success has prompted the city of Niles to think about investing in one of its own.

Mayor Nick Shelton posted on Facebook asking for public input on the project-- with a rendering of what the proposed pad would look like.

Parents said they're excited about the possibility. 

“The closest splash pads now, you’ve got to go to Mishawaka or you’re going up to the beaches or whatever, and just with gas and everything, I would one-hundred percent be interested in that," said Annelise Wagner-Hicks.

But there is a catch.

The proposed pad is estimated to cost between $450,000-- $600,000, with added yearly expenses up to $25,000 in water and maintenance fees. 

Mayor Shelton proposed a Parks & Recreation millage to pay for the project, at a rate of $50 per every $1,000 of a property's taxable value, or by pulling from the city's General Fund.

That money adds up-- which is why public reaction so far, has been pretty mixed.

Still, some argue that the sacrifice would be well worth it. 

Wagner-Hicks said “One of the benefits of a small town is that everything’s close and it’s a smaller area, but you lose those amenities and I feel like amenities is one of the things that we’re missing around here. I think it would definitely draw people from the city but also from the surrounding area.”

Mayor Shelton told ABC57 in an email that part of the reason he made his post was to see if the community would have suggestions, writing: “A conversation like this can spark interest in individuals, and may even garner a champion (or group of champions), who would spearhead a fundraising campaign for the installation of a splash pad and its associated maintenance costs.”

He also added he has other ideas in mind for funding a splash pad. 

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