North Miami opens aquatic playground
The latest rage in aquatic recreation is big, blue and orange, spews water and sits in a pool no deeper than 12 inches. The first Wet-Tot-Lot in Dade County, Fla., is now open and fully operational at the city of North Miami’s Gribble Pool.
North Miami decided that, since it was time to improve the existing Gribble Pool Facility anyway, it might as well make some noticeable changes in the process.
Jean Fountain, director of parks and recreation for the city, contracted David Markey of Markey and Associates, Kennesaw, Ga., to design the Wet-Tot-Lot. In addition, the company developed plans for new decking, a diving board and pool edging on the existing facility.
One of the main concerns was how to create a facility that could be accessed easily by small children – those under four feet tall – and disabled persons.
The existing Gribble Pool had no stairs (only ladders), a shallow depth of three-and-a-half feet and very steep walls, all of which made the pool difficult to enter and exit.
The Wet-Tot-Lot has no stairs or ladders, only a gradual slope that is both the entrance and exit, allowing small children and disabled persons easy access to the water playground. The brilliantly colored creation is fully equipped with all the necessary ammunition to help parents and children fight off the long, hot days of summer.
Tire swings, slides, water guns, jet valves and bubblers are a few of the special features of the city-run facility.
“I suppose the reason that it took so long for this innovative idea to hit South Florida is because of our exposure to the beaches,” Fountain says.
The Wet-Tot-Lot, however, offers something that public beaches can’t – it provides a shallow wading pool carefully supervised by trained lifeguards, and, Fountain says, it “gives children something more to do than just build sand castles.”
The entire Wet-Tot-Lot, including renovations to the existing Gribble Pool cost $387,000. The project was paid for by two matching grants, one state Recreation DevelopmentAssistance Grant, and one federal Community Development Block Grant.
“The Wet-Tot-Lot will be a pleasant oasis in a growing community,” says Lee Feldman, city manager.When we were trying to decide on a site for this project, it seemed like the Gribble Pool was the best location because of the number of children in this particular area.”
Fountain studied a 1995 Recreational Needs Assessment and discovered a 300 percent increase in the number of children under five years old in North Miami. This information indicated the city’s need for such a child-oriented facility. It costs $1 per person for those over three years of age and is free to those three years old and under. The Wet-Tot-Lot can handle up to 40 children at a time; the entire Gribble Pool complex can handle up to 249 patrons.