park courtesy

A conceptual model shows the design of a splash pad that will be constructed at Veterans Memorial Park

Expect the sound of children’s laughter and splashes of water to become the new normal if you live near Veterans Memorial Park.

A $100,000 check was presented to the Veterans Memorial Park by the Rotary Clubs of Gainesville Foundation on Tuesday evening. The private contribution will be used for general improvements and for the creation of a children’s splash zone dedicated to all branches of military service, according to the Alachua County Commissioners’ agenda.

Matthew Braddy, president of the Rotary Clubs of Gainesville Foundation, said the splash zone would be a fun place for kids to run around and play. The outdoor concrete circle will have sprinklers and various devices that spray water. There is no start date for construction.

After two years of fundraising through events like the annual Wild Game Feast, Braddy said he and his team are proud to give back to the community.

“Because of great community support, business sponsors [and] about 2,000 volunteer hours every year, we were able to fulfill our two-year commitment,” Braddy said during his speech at the presentation ceremony.

The Veterans Memorial Park, located at 7400 SW 41st Place, is one of two partnership fundraising projects with the foundation — the second being a senior citizen project. Braddy said the foundation chose the park based on demographics and the needs of the city. The project can be enjoyed by both adults and children.

“The impact is far greater than the Rotary,” Braddy said.

Charlie Houder, director of Parks and Conservation Lands for Alachua County, said the original plan was not nearly as extensive as it is now.

“When we first started looking at this, we were looking at this pretty narrowly — a splash pad kids playing area, but when we started to look at it more, we found some additional improvements to bring it together, ” Houder said. “It has grown from one feature to a redevelopment of the park.”

The park currently has two play areas, a fitness trail, nature trails, a basketball court, softball fields, soccer fields and roller hockey facilities. There are also three large pavilions for patrons, according to the Alachua County Parks and Conservation Lands website.

Children and adults are able to stroll through a veterans memorial and police memorial at the park as well. The water play area will add to the list of family-oriented activities available.

“That’s what the county government is for: to help the community,” Houder said.