For Wake Forest residents without a community pool in their neighborhood, summer 2017 is starting out a little dry ... but not for long.
The town's first sprayground at Taylor Street Park, 416 N. Taylor St., could open as early as mid-July, barring any construction hurdles. Work began in April, said Ruben Wall, the town's parks and recreation director.
And, in May 2018, the town plans to open a brand new aquatic facility at Holding Park, home of the town's aging, but popular pool, which is closed for the second year because of significant structural issues.
"This is really exciting," Wall said. "This is brand new. There's a lot of work behind the scenes, but it's well worth it."
First up for Wake Forest is the sprayground, a zero-depth aquatic play area with dozens of devices that spray, mist or dump water. Admission to the sprayground will be free once it opens.
Spraygrounds have become increasingly popular with local parks departments as a way to offer people opportunities to cool off without the costs of lifeguards and other staff required for a traditional pool.
In the last couple of years, Fuquay-Varina and Cary have opened their first spraygrounds. Fuquay-Varina's splash pad opens for the 2017 season with a preview weekend this Saturday and Sunday. Cary's Jack Smith Park sprayground opened a couple of weeks ago. Raleigh and Durham also have spraygrounds. Our public pools database lists the locations of all of them in the region.
The sprayground will sit on the same site as a swimming pool, which the town closed and buried more than 20 years ago. Crews had to unearth some of that old pool to make way for the new water play area. Wall said the construction company is targeting a mid-July completion date.
"I hope it's sooner," Wall said.
Construction of the Taylor Street sprayground will cost about $345,000. To build the sprayground, Wake Forest received Community Development Block Grant funding from Wake County Human Services, which requires the town to cover at least 20 percent of the project costs. The block grant will cover the remainder, according to Wake Forest's website.
Just a few weeks after the sprayground is expected to open, work will begin on the town's Holding Park Pool complex. While repairing a leak in the existing pool in 2016, contractors found major issues related to the integrity of the pool walls, shutting it down for both the 2016 and 2017 seasons, according to the town's website. The original pool is 75 years old. Major renovations took place 40 years ago, Wall said.
"The pool was at a point where it was time to replace it," he said.
In October, the town's board of commissioners approved plans for a $2.5 million replacement for the pool.
The new facility will include three separate bodies of water - a six-lane, 25-meter lap pool; a children's pool with a small slide and other play pieces; and another pool with two water slides - one open and the other enclosed, according to the most current plans. The Holding Park facility is scheduled to open May 2018. The town will charge fees to swim at Holding Park, but those fees have not been set.
Wall, however, does expect some crowds when it opens next year.
"We're expecting a much larger audience," he said.