Visalia splash pad plagued by damage done to rubber surface

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Riverway Sports Park splash pad has closed a total of three days just this month due to damage. (KFSN)

For the third time this month, the city of Visalia has had to close one of their splash pads. Visalia Parks and Recreation officials say people, most likely children, are clogging the system when they pull and pick at the rubber surface. The Riverway Sports Park splash pad is only one of two splash pads open in the city right now.

On Wednesday, Jessica Richardson, her three boys, and their friend showed up an hour before the splash pad opened.

"It's free, it's fun, it has the water (and) it's so hot outside," Richardson said.

By the time the water was turned on, the kids were more than ready to get soaked. But they're lucky they didn't come on Tuesday, because for the third time this month, city crews had to close the splash pad to repair damage done by children picking and pulling at the rubber surface.

"And what happens is that goes into the system and it clogs it and unfortunately we have to close it for a 24-hour period so that we can do some damage repair to that," said Visalia Parks and Recreation Supervisor Maggie Kalar.

Trash and debris can also clog the system, and it costs hundreds of dollars each time crews have to make repairs.

Kalar said people just need to be respectful of park facilities so everyone can enjoy them.

"It's really hot, it's really not a nice time at this time of year and it's a great opportunity for families to come out and enjoy cooling off in the splash pad area," Kalar said. "But if it's closed, unfortunately they don't get to have that."

Richardson said the splash pad is a place where her kids can cool off and make friends. It's also where she can also socialize with other moms. But she said only parents have the power to stop the problems that have been happening here for years.

"I mean ultimately if we tell our kids not to do stuff, to destroy property, I think that's a problem with kids everywhere right now," she said. "The parents are not parenting. They need to tell them what's right and wrong."

Parks and recreation staff will continue to post on social media, and they'll meet to discuss possible solutions to the problem, including additional signs. The Riverway Sports Park splash pad is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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