Making a splash: Groundbreaking for long-awaited splash park held

Published 12:30 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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For years, children could entertain themselves at the Eugene Gay Pool in Winchester, but following its closure in 2015, there hasn’t been much of an opportunity for them to cool off during the hot Kentucky summer.

Now, a spark of hope fills the air.

The Eugene Gay Splash Park celebrated its ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at Community Park with the simultaneous goal of kicking off a fundraising campaign.

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“It’s been a long process, but we’re finally getting here,” said Jeff Lewis, Director of Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation. “We don’t have shovels yet, but we’re working with Palmer Engineering to come up with the development.”

In 2022, the city of Winchester budgeted $250,000 toward the project to match public and private donations and contributions. $100,000 was also allocated by the Fiscal Court.

The splash park is designed to be an area for water play with little to no standing water.

Various features are included to spray, rain, mist, and shoot streams of water – which can be cooling during hot summer months.

Water splashed onto the surface then gets collected, filtered, and recirculated to keep the water flowing and do so in an eco-friendly manner.

Many have supported the development of a splash park.

However, lifelong resident Deatra Newell undoubtedly championed the cause that began approximately 17 years ago, along with several others, including Ronda Simmons.

“They had the vision, and they had other things going on, so I just tried to stay the course…so that this can come to pass,” said Newell. “I am so grateful and thankful for all the people that have been supportive of this project.”

A crowd of supportive individuals gathered at the local ceremony.

Among others, those in attendance were April Stanfield and Tiffany Fletcher of Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation, Clark County Magistrate Robert Blanton, Winchester City Commissioners Kenny Book and Shannon Cox, and Mayor JoEllen Reed.

“People know when I ran for this office, one of the main things I wanted to do is to increase the quality of life,” said Reed. “[This is] seventeen years in the making. It’s been a long time.”

Through the environment of the splash pad, Newell and others hope to provide a place for relaxation, exercising, learning to swim, and spending quality time together.

Perhaps most notably, she hopes to see it as a place for youth.

“When I was young, we had the bowling alley, we had the swimming pool that was here, and we had a drive-in,” she said. “Our children had a lot to do in the community, and it’s just important for somebody to advocate and keep it going…that’s the importance of it for me.”

To help support the development of the Eugene Gay Splash Park by sponsoring a water feature or designated area of the park, or other means, a check or money order can be sent to:

Winchester City Hall

(Splash Park Donation)

32 Wall Street/P.O. Box 40

Winchester, KY. 40392.

Donations can also be made by calling the city manager’s office at Winchester City Hall at (859) 744-2821.

Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.