By Dawn Hatfield
GREENVILLE — Wednesday evening was a joyous time on the south end of Greenville as many gathered for the new Splash Pad dedication. Ryan Delk, Greenville Safety/Service Director, welcomed the community and shared the long history of this humble park, dating back to 1947 when Judge Howard Eley, then governor of Greenville Moose Lodge 329, conceived of building a children’s park in Greenville’s south side. He explained the history of the park has had many ups and downs, with budget cuts and repairs sometimes causing temporary shut-downs or project delays. In response to these setbacks, Delk added, “… every time, someone stepped to the plate, and someone made it happen. They made it happen for the kids.”
After the closure of the wading pool in 2009, there had been new ideas for South Park. Beginning in 2013, the city applied for grants but was continually denied until 2017 when Wayne Healthcare stepped in with matching funds. The city was thrilled to finally open the Splash Pad to the public on June 11, 2021, after the pandemic pushed the original plans back by a year. Delk continued, “I’ve went by morning, noon, night — it’s always packed. So, I think that right there shows how much it was needed.”
Greenville City Mayor Steve Willman, recounted his own memories of living in the south end when he was very young. “I do remember coming to the wading pool. We walked over from Wayne Ave. where we lived for maybe about five, six years,” the mayor reminisced. He shared that even after moving outside of town, the family would still come back to South Park to play in the pool.
Willman added, “One of the first things I wanted to get done when I first came to office was to revitalize this area here.” He continued with thanks for Wayne Healthcare’s support. “This is a great opportunity for us to recognize and thank one of the best partners this city’s had for many years. Wayne Healthcare is a tremendous help in the city, revitalizing the south end.” The mayor then presented Jeff Subler, President and CEO of Wayne Healthcare, with a beautiful framed sketch drawn by local artist, Paul Ackley.
Taking the microphone, Subler expressed his feelings about the hospital’s involvement.
“On behalf of the hospital, I want to say we were very excited about being a part of this project. I need to give kudos to Wayne Deschambeau [former President and CEO of Wayne Healthcare]. He was instrumental in participating in this project,” announced Subler. He continued, “We do see ourselves a an anchor for the south side of Greenville.”
In closing the dedication, Delk shared a preview of further South Park improvements that are “in the works,” such as adding picnic tables, benches, shade trees, and even an indoor changing room. He again expressed gratitude for all the assistance received in making the Splash Pad a reality: all the Greenville city departments, the City Council, the Park Board, Choice One Engineering, C.F. Poeppelman, Inc./Pepcon, and Wayne Healthcare. Delk said that it truly does “take a village” to complete a project as special as this one. He encouraged everyone to enjoy the new Splash Pad from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the next few weeks until its seasonal closing, likely to fall around Oct. 1.
To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield email [email protected]