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Splash Pad recognized by trade publication

August 25, 2010 - Once again, Ron Davis and his dedicated team have brought home the gold and drawn positive attention to the community of Oxford.

This time it's on an international level.

Hold on to your bathing suits because the KLR Splash Pad at Seymour Lake Township Park has earned the distinction of being the "Best Spray Park" in the United States and Canada, according to a contest held by the Los-Angles-based Aquatics International magazine.

"There's something about the Oxford park that the judges thought made it stand out from the others in the country," said Gary Thill, the magazine's editor.

"It's pretty exciting. It's another feather in our cap," said Davis, director of the Oxford Twp. Parks and Recreation Department. "When we do something, we do it right and go above and beyond the norm. I think that's a tribute to not only our department, but the community's support." Constructed and opened in 2009, the KLR Splash Pad was financed through a combination of grant money, community fund-raisers, private donations and tax dollars.

The initials KLR have a dual meaning.

Not only do they stand for "Kids Love Recreation," they also represent the three local clubs that helped fund the splash pad – Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary.

As a contest winner, the KLR Splash Pad will be prominently featured in the November/December double issue of Aquatics International. "Every winner gets an article about what made (their facility) special and a picture," Thill said. "It's pretty much a full-page write-up."

Aquatics International is a trade publication with a circulation of about 25,000.

"We're international, but probably 90 percent of our readership is in the United States," Thill said.

Every year, the monthly magazine conducts a "Best of Aquatics" contest in which aquatics facilities from across the country and Canada can enter. Eligible facilities include commercial and public swimming pools, splash pads and water parks.

Thill indicated the magazine received about 50 entries for the contest's 11 categories, which are all judged by a panel of aquatics experts, people who work for design and consulting firms.

"It's a special honor because it is from their peers," he said.

The KLR Splash Pad was entered by the company that constructed it, the Okemos-based Miracle Recreation of Michigan.

"They had told me they we're going to enter us, but I really didn't think much about it because I didn't think we had a chance," Davis said. "We know the value of that pad here in our community, but outside (Oxford), do they really know the value?

"Evidently someone did."

Earning "Best Spray Park" means the KLR Splash Pad "excelled" in the areas of fostering community spirit and innovation, according to Thill.

"A lot of what aquatics facilities do is building community. They provide a place for people to come together and (interact) in a way that other places don't," he explained. "At an aquatics facility, there's a lot of neighbors meeting neighbors. It's a very communal kind of experience."

As far as innovation goes, the KLR Splash Pad's unique in that it offers universal accessibility for disabled individuals and an environmentally-smart waste water disposal system.

"We're using the waste water to irrigate our softball fields," Davis said. "We thought out of the box on things. We didn't follow the (normal) path. We went (in) a different direction."

Davis would like to see this award spur on others in his profession.

"Hopefully, it will inspire other departments in our state, or maybe nationally, to build a similar project," he said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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