Mayor Stear

Mayor Stear played with kids in the splash pad during its grand opening on July 3.

It’s not every day that a city’s constituents get to watch their mayor, dressed in slacks and a button-up shirt, get drenched from head to toe by gallons of water. On Wednesday, July 3, however, the people of Kuna watched as Mayor Joe Stear and an excited group of kids waited for a massive orange bucket to eventually fill to the brim, then let the water rush over them.

Mayor Stear splash pad

Mayor Joe Stear after being soaked at the splash pad.

For nearly two years, Kuna has been awaiting the opening of the town’s first splash pad. July 3 marked the splash pad’s grand opening, which took place during the Popsicles with the Mayor event from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event was commemorated with the cutting of a gold ribbon by Stear, free popsicles, beach volleyball, a water slide and of course, fun in the splash pad.

Stear, during the ribbon cutting, described the park as “a long time coming.” While funding was secured for the splash pad two years ago and should have opened in 2018, problems arose that pushed back the official opening day.

“It took a couple of years,” Stear said. “This project turned out to be one of those things, so everyone’s been excited about it. It’s good to finally get it open. It’s kind of the beginning of recreational things, because we just don’t have that. It’s a good start, and we’ll just keep going from there.”

Ribbon cutting

A golden ribbon was cut on Wednesday, June 3 to commemorate the grand opening of Kuna’s first splash pad.

After a two-year wait, upwards of 100 eager people descended on the park to enjoy the big day, many of whom noted the convenience of having free entertainment so close to home.

Chelsea Williams, who brought her 3-year-old daughter and older boys, also acknowledged that older kids can spend time at the park across the street, while younger ones can play in the splash pad.

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“It’s really cool. I didn’t know what to expect, but this is awesome,” Williams said. “I’m excited to have something fun for them and not have to drive to Meridian, especially since there’s not a pool here or anything. So this is really fun. I like that we can stay in the community and they can see kids they know. I like that there’s more to do in our little city.”

Marsha Thomas, who came with her 16- and 12-year-old kids, said that for people with children who don’t want to drive to find activities to do, something like the splash pad is a great option.

“I think it’s huge for them,” Thomas said. “It’s not a huge splash pad, but it wasn’t super busy when I was here either. A lot of people do go to the bigger places, but I’m kind of a homebody. I would prefer to not travel to try to find things to do. If I can do it in my own community, I’m totally happy.”

splash pad

Kids and parents wait in line to use a water slide that was brought to the splash pad’s grand opening.

Facebook comments have shown that people have concerns regarding the splash pad’s times and lack of sitting areas. The mayor said that by the end of the week, the grass surrounding the splash pad — which has been barricaded off for weeks by orange fencing — should be ready by next week. The grass will provide more lounging areas for families while children play.

He also said he knows the limited sitting area is inconvenient, but that installing a turf was nearly $10,000 more than planting grass around the splash pad. In the meantime, before the grass fully grows in, splash pad-goers are asked to remain off the freshly planted sod.

On July 1, the Parks and Recreation Department opened a poll that addresses the splash pad’s operating hours. Though the splash pad can only operate for eight hours per day, constituents have the opportunity to vote on a number of different time slots, which are as follows:

  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • 11 a.m. to 7 p.m
  • 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bobby Withrow, director of the department, said the poll will be open through the weekend. As it stands, about 200 people have given input, but the department is still looking for more feedback so they can make the right decision for Kuna. The poll can be found on the department’s Facebook page.

Jordan Erb is the reporter for Kuna Melba News. You can contact her at{span} {/span}208-922-3008, or at jerb@idahopress.com. Follow her on Twitter @jordanparkererb

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