FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – 25 years after the construction of Headwaters Park, the greenspace and event venue at the heart of the city has started to show its age. The future of the park’s splashpad is on the list of potential future projects that could prove to be too costly to fix.
City Councilman Geoff Paddock has been serving as the director of the Headwaters Park Alliance, overseeing the operation of the venue. He walked WANE 15 through the park Wednesday, pointing out improvements he says are needed, but could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We estimate 500,000 people probably use this park each year,” Paddock said. “So, I think we’ve withstood a lot of usage and a lot of time, but we certainly have some projects in mind to move forward in the years ahead.”
The splashpad in the east side of the park was one of the first in the area when it was constructed. The water was turned off during the pandemic and will likely stay off until a decision can be made on its future. According to Paddock, it needs an upgrade, including a bigger tank to meet health standards.
“Do we want another splashpad down here or should we do something else with it,” Paddock asked. “We don’t want it to sit as it is for a long time.”
A total rebuild could cost more than $100,000. With other splashpads around the city, Paddock said conversations with the Parks and Recreation Department and Board of Health have to weigh the value of the project.
“Those are things we want to work on going forward, but unfortunately, it will be off for the rest of this year and probably in 2022 as well until we can figure out a plan,” Paddock added. “Part of that plan will be fundraising. We’ll be looking for individuals who might want to come forward to participate in the reconstruction cost of this splashpad.”
Paddock also noted the lack of fog coming from the structure in the west side of the park, something the feature was originally designed to do. The gazebo-like building has broken lights and graffiti. The damage adds to the tired look of the park, that includes broken trails and brown patches of grass.
The need for improvements comes at a bad time for the park. The venue has become accustomed to hosting festivals and celebrations over the summer. Paddock noted the loss of revenue from the events over the past two years, causing a shortfall of funds that could be used to update the park.