Wallingford Wading Pool Hours

Photo by abbybatchelder

Now that summer’s upon us (in theory, at least) the Wallingford Wee Set can look forward to a little splash time at the Wallingford Wading Pool. Opening day is Wednesday, June 29, and the season runs through Friday, August 19. The wading pool will run on a limited schedule again this year, only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from noon until 7pm.

If you’re disappointed in these limited hours and hoping for a little more water time, Wallingford Community Council member Eric Fisk has this suggestion:

The city is looking to convert wading pools to spray parks because they require no lifeguards, use less water, can run for all hours, and are better for older kids. The Ballard spray park is a good example of what they want to see more of, and given budget cutbacks the Wallingford wading pool is something they want to see less of.
In order for the Wallingford wading pool to be converted we need a parent that is interested in writing a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant proposal and working with the neighborhood on design and work parties and the like. The Wallingford Community Council would be glad to assist in any way we can, e.g. as being the nonprofit treasurer for such an effort and providing a public forum / design review / endorsement process. Most people on the community council have been involved with matching fund grants in the past and it’s a great way to get constructively involved with your neighborhood.
  • gregf

    Some thoughts:

    The concept for a spray park was raised back in 1999 when Friends of Wallingford Playfield redid the park. We performed an extensive community survey at the time to identify preferences and goals. I’m not trying to say “yay” or “nay” for a spray park, they can be great fun for older kids.

    The community was soundly against a spray park in 1999 (yes, opinions may have changed since last century, but I do not believe that anyone really knows) and we elected to redesign the wading pool to be ADA accessible and improve the plumbing. As I recall, some of the reasons given for keeping the pool included:

    There is more running associated with a spray park, so it is less toddler friendly. Older kids tend to chase off the little folks.

    The Wallingford pool is one of the deepest in the city and allowed tots to become more comfortable with deeper water and even practice learning to float.

    Having a wading pool encouraged Parks to provide staff that also served to provide craft and play activities during the summer.

    At that time, there was a reduced lunch program during the summer, so another reason to provide a staff person.

    Americorps typically provided the staff, so a college student was employed in the summer (and can be great fun for the kids).

    Water toys do not float very well in a spray park :-)

    Our pool are is small, about 1200 sq ft, and a spray park may not accommodate as many kids as the pool because there are “stations”.

    The Wallingford wading pool and play area has traditionally served as a preschool/toddler area that is a bit quieter and more little-tyke-friendly than other, more active pools. Wallingford is reknown as a toddler-friendly play area.

    The pool was re-designed to function as an ad-hoc skate park in the off-season. We kept stuff out of the way. Spray park equipment might interfere with this use.

    I do not recall the actual fill volume of the wading pool, but if it is 4000 gallons, this corresponds to a spray park flow rate allowance of 9 gpm for a day’s worth of water. A home showerhead is 2.5 gpm by comparison and a spray park would use at least 10 gpm. The water cannot be recirculated without treatment and such a system is costly to install and maintain, even then there are still risks such as cryptosporidiosis or other waterbourne disease.

    A typical concept is to implement a “once-through” system and store the water for use by the park irrigation system. Otherwise, it is dumped to the storm drain.

    For a pool as small as Wallingford, the primary cost savings are likely from not requiring staff to be present and not having to pay for chemicals. Water would only be saved if it is reused to irrigate the field.

    Has anyone thought of partnering with Boys and Girls Club staff to get someone to manage the pool during the summer and provide a small crafts program?

    Conversion is not as simple or as “green” as it is made to sound in this artiocle, especially for a small pool like Wallingford. Different user groups would be served. One must also question the merits of getting rid of a staff person who could also provide crafts.

    If someone elects to take this on, please make sure to perform a sincere and effective survey of the community before installing a project that may change the use and tone of this portion of the park. Check the numbers regarding “savings”. Ask questions!

  • bb

    Didn’t the city say this year that communities could raise money to fund more days for wading pools?

  • Margaret

    Yes, but the funds raised would be pooled (pardon the pun) for all of the communities. That wouldn’t necessarily mean Wallingford would get all 5 days back. It would just mean that whatever funds are raised, each of the neighborhoods would receive one day back, etc.

  • Adam13

    I spoke with a mother in the park recently and I thought she had a good idea. What about allowing one or more local businesses to sponsor the wading pool? During operating hours, the businesses would be allowed to hang advertising banners in return for paying the operating costs of the pool. the operation.

  • Eric

    Greg does a good job of explaining why the design is the way it is today. Times are different now and the mayor and council have been clear that they want wading pools converted going forward. If nothing is done, the likelihood is that hours will either stay very limited or that the pool will be closed.

    Conversions currently happening are documented here: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/wadingpools.asp

  • Nancy M

    If Wallingford folks want the wading pool to continue, let’s figure out a way to have the wading pool continue. A lot of work (and fundraising and grant getting and volunteer hours) went into converting a tired, unsafe (and beloved) play structure into the playscape there now which includes a considered wading pool (with dual duty for skateboarding).
    When fireworks looked like they were on the way out, solutions were found and the same can happen for the wading pool. IF the Wallingford Community Council and all the usual volunteer suspects and kids and parents in Wallingford want a wading pool and not a sprinkler feature, it will happen. Perhaps the board of the Wallingford Neighborhood Office would be a fit for taking this on . . . reinvent some other wheel that is squeakier.

  • Catherine

    Thanks to Greg for summarizing all of the reasons why I, as a Wallingford parent of two toddlers, am opposed to transforming the wading pool into a spray park. Water safety is an important lesson for kids. Within the past week or so the American Academy of Pediatricians issued a press release warning people of the dangers of small plastic/inflatable backyard kiddie pools. Kids are safer in a wading pool staffed with a lifeguard than in a wading pool at home. Perhaps more importantly, kids learn how to swim and float in the water in a wading pool to enhance their safety elsewhere, a lesson that isn’t learned in a spray park.

  • gregf

    Wow! Great comments. My intention was to provide historical basis for what we went through just ten years ago. The process was detailed and thorough to first assess what the community wanted, followed by pressing the various agencies to help us make it so. Appropriate for a toddler park, we kept asking “Why”, repeatedly, to a lot of what Parks and the City previously stated as firm policy.

    Guess I am suggesting:

    Whoever elects to take on this kind of task perform a sincere and thorough survey of community opinion first. Be willing to accept that your opinion may not represent the majority and be willing to modify your intentions to represent community wishes… then work hard to fulfill those wishes instead of your own.

    Question authority. Be willing to work to demonstrate to the “powers that be” that a blanket policy may not be the most cost effective approach. My sense based on past experience with the design for the park is that a policy that might make sense for a large wading pool such as Green Lake or Lincoln or Volunteer Park does not make sense for a small pool like Wallingford.

    A lot of what you see at the park today was contrary to what initially Parks and the City said we could not do when we began. We had to push the envelope often and hard. However, this is keeps Seattle neighborhoods unique.

    Regarding subsidizing the pool hours locally – the money would be shared with one other location in an under-served neighborhood, not with all the other pools in the City as Margaret states. The original policy was modified.

    Crunch the numbers, calculate the savings, demonstrate the benefits, ask what you are giving up. Parks and City policy is not necessarily always the best policy.

  • http://www.Wallyhood.org Margaret

    Thanks for the clarification, Greg!

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