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Helmut Schmidt, Published July 02 2013

Shadow Wood Park splash pad draws good reviews from visitors, neighbors

WEST FARGO – The Shadow Wood Park splash pad is making a big splash in kiddie play circles.

The park, which opened in May at 36th Avenue and Fourth Street East, is drawing families with preschool- through-elementary schoolchildren from throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area – and beyond.

Amy Endres, 33, Mankato, Minn., found out about the splash pad from a family member in Moorhead, who put a picture of the pad on Facebook.

“This is really cool. A lot of fun. And great for kids,” she said Monday, as she kept track of four children younger than 4.

“It’s nice that there’s no cost,” Endres said. “It’s fun for the kids to do.”

Lacey Rust, 30, who lives in the nearby Eagle Run development, said her 9½-month-old daughter loves the splash pad.

“Just a great atmosphere, Rust said. “It’s fun for a bunch of different ages.”

Sharon Odegaard, president of the West Fargo Park Board, said she’s heard “nothing but positive” from city residents and visitors since the splash pad opened in May.

“The thing that is really interesting about that is we planned something completely different for that area,” she said of an amphitheater rejected by Shadow Wood Lakes subdivision residents.

In fact, the splash pad was an idea that came from the neighborhood in July 2011, she said.

“They offered to have it special assessed. They wanted it that bad. Unbelievable! These guys were out there saying, ‘We’ll pay for it. Just get it done,’ ” Odegaard said. “They understood it was for the general public, but they were still OK with that. Pretty cool!”

The splash pad and restrooms, concessions and maintenance building cost about $800,000 in the $2 million park, said Barb Erbstoesser, the executive director of the West Fargo Park District. It is being paid for with a mix of special assessments and park district funds, she said.

A splash pad is an area for water play that has no standing water. Typically, ground spouts spray water up through a rain deck.

The Shadow Wood Park pad, with its mix of animal-shaped water spouts and other water sprays and showers of various sizes, sits above a large artificial pond.

The park also has two pavilions with picnic tables, a children’s play park and a rock garden with waterfall.

“Every nice day there’s a few hundred kids,” said Ryan Hoffart, who runs the concession stand and watches over the splash pad. “It’s pretty awesome.”

The park is surrounded by homes, many with yards filled with toys and play sets.

“We’ve got three little kids (ages 4, 2 and 1). We like it,” said Jareb Raan, who lives on the 500 block of 35th Avenue East. “I noticed it’s full all the time. I haven’t heard a bad thing about it.”

“I like the fact that it’s family-oriented,” said Gail Miner, who lives on the 3500 block of Sixth Street East. “Having been a schoolteacher, it doesn’t bother me. I think it’s great as long as they keep it clean.”

But at least one park area resident wishes the pad was elsewhere.

“Why do we have to pay for a West Fargo park where kids from all over the area get to use it?” said the woman, who declined to be named. “And I have to listen to kids screaming all day. It’s like an amphitheater.

“I don’t mind paying some. But why doesn’t somebody else share (the cost)?”

Odegaard said not everyone understands that the Fargo-Moorhead area has fluid boundaries. And that people often use amenities in other towns.

“It all works out. We’re all here to serve the community,” she said. “The entire community uses everything; I like that.”

If father Adam Sandbeck, 37, West Fargo, had his way, the entire community would get splash pads.

“I think they should have more of these all over town. It’s cool,” Sandbeck said. “I wish we had some of these when we were kids. It’s a great concept.”

Erbstoesser said that may well happen, but not this year, as the park district rebuilds the Veterans Memorial Pool.

“It’s something we’re definitely considering,” she said.

If you go

What: Shadow Wood Park splash pad

When: Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Fourth Street East and 36th Avenue, West Fargo

Info: The splash pad is free for all to use


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583