The Parks and Recreation Department initiated the project in April 2018 with SWA Groups, a landscape and urban design firm with splash playground experience.
The existing wading pool (installed in 1977), located adjacent to Los Baños del Mar, has been closed since 2014, due to a major leak and the ongoing response to the severe drought. The wading pool will require significant upgrades to reopen since the specific location of the leak is unknown. There are also new mandatory upgrades to allow access for persons with disabilities, and the state Health and Safety Code requires an upgraded water filtration system. Considering these capital costs and the operational costs for lifeguard staffing to operate a wading pool, the Parks and Recreation Department (Department) is developing a plan to replace the wading pool with a splash playground.
Splash playgrounds, also known as splash pads or splash parks, typically feature a concrete surface and have a variety of water jets that create a fun environment for children of all ages. Splash playgrounds are a popular replacement for wading pools due to their lower cost for maintenance and staffing, and longer range of operating days during the year. Splash playgrounds can also be used by members of the community that do not know how to swim. Unlike traditional wading pools, splash playgrounds do not have standing water of any considerable depth — typically less than an inch deep and freely flowing to surface drains — so the chance of drowning is greatly minimized and lifeguards are not required by law. When not in use, splash playgrounds can be used as a multi-purpose space and integrated into a more traditional playground or park setting.
The primary objective of the West Beach Splash Playground (Project) is to create an engaging park incorporating playful and safe water elements in warmer months, while also functioning as a year-round destination playground. A key consideration is to have the design theme reflect local ocean and waterfront features. Project amenities need to include restroom/changing room, exterior showers, tables and chairs, shade options, and play elements for wet and dry areas. A concept plan was created using those project objectives