Park District announces plan for community center, opens splash pad

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DIXON – The next project on tap for Dixon following the opening of the Water Wonderland splash pad is to build a community center.

The goal of bringing a new facility to town was announced Saturday during the grand opening of the new splash pad in Meadows Park, a $550,000 project, the bulk of which was paid for with community donations.

Good communities might take a breather after building great things, but great communities look at what to do next, Park District Executive Director Duane Long said.

“The children of our community have done without for too long,” Long said. “This time has come for our town to come together. All the pieces are falling into place, and our great city is strong and getting stronger.”

Details of a potential community center – what all it would include, how much it would cost, how it would be funded and where it would be located – are in the works, but Long said it would meet the athletic and recreational needs of the community, have after school activities as well as “something for everyone.”

The project would be a collaboration with the Park District, School District, city and Dixon Family YMCA, and the #Dixon Strong Leadership Team is helping to work out the logistics.

A sports complex has been a goal for government and community organization officials for many years, but voters said no to sales tax increases to finance it.

The Water Wonderland splash park project kicked off about a year ago after longtime residents Tom and Kathi Sherman pledged $200,000 for a splash pad after hearing of renewed interest with the city and Park District collaborating on such an effort.

Tom said they think the city’s greatest asset is its people, and they wanted to give back to benefit the community.

It has taken a long time to expand water recreation in the city after the closure of Veterans Memorial Pool in Vaile Park nearly 20 years ago, but Kathi said she hopes the children in the community have a wonderful time, and they’re thankful to everyone who helped get the water flowing.

It has a 70-by-70-foot splash pad with 23 water features and two zones geared toward children 2 to 5 and 5 to 12, landscaping, a pavilion, restrooms and a paved parking lot.

The Park District and city both committed $100,000 and raised $140,000 in community donations; local businesses and volunteers donated labor.

“Their generosity, hard work and sacrifice have created more than a water park,” Long said. “They have begun to create a bigger vision for the new layers of greatness we can add to our great town.”

The constant rains put a damper on construction, but Long was often working day and night, including in the middle of the night, to see that the project came together on time.

City Manager Danny Langloss praised Long for his hard work and dedication and for bringing an “overdue and incredible” new vision to the Park District.

“He has truly poured his heart into this project.”