By Jonathan Owens

Sanford residents will soon have a new spot to cool off — better late than never during this particularly hot summer — as the city plans to open its first splash pad at Kiwanis Family Park off Wicker Street later this month.

Opening a new water attraction in late August is not ideal, according to Sanford Parks Administrator Don Reuter. But the short inaugural run for the pad has done little to tamp down the city’s excitement.

“The enthusiasm for this project is overwhelming,” said Reuter, adding that he fields daily calls asking when it will open. “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”

Reuter was unable to provide a definite opening date for the park other than saying it would open “later in August.” The only items left to check off as of late July were permit reviews and repaving the parking lot.

“If you look at it from afar, it looks ready,” he said. “But the devil is in the details. We don’t want to open without everything ready.”


The City of Sanford broke ground on the splash pad and other park upgrades and additions on Nov. 28 of last year. The project is a collaborative effort by Sanford and Lee County Government, which donated 14 acres of land at Kiwanis Park for redevelopment, and was funded with the $2 million Parks and Recreational bonds approved by voters in the 2013 Bond Referendum. An additional $350,000 was provided by a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant.

The splash pad is rated for a capacity of 177 people. And if it seems like a huge waste of water, don’t worry. It isn’t. The system is completely self-contained. Water recycles constantly through a filter system much like a swimming pool.

In addition to the splash pad, parkgoers will find an upgraded walking trail, two new shelters, all new restroom facilities with showers and a universal playground that kids of all different abilities will be able to enjoy.

“Certainly, the splash pad is the “WOW” factor,” Reuter said, “but there’s so much more to it than just that. The splash pad will be the attraction in the summer months, but this park will be a year-round attraction.”

Reuter said an investment in parks such as this “is a key part of the city’s strategy to bring value to our community.”

“Parks like this are a source of city pride,” Reuter said. “Parks belong to everyone. People will ride by it and say, ‘that’s my park.’”