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Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch Children take advantage of the spring weather as they play at the St. Cloud Commons all-inclusive playground in Huntington in this file photo. The Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District has been awarded a $250,000 grant to build a splash pad at the all-inclusive playground.

HUNTINGTON — Huntington will soon have its own splash pad similar to ones in Barboursville and Milton thanks to a national grant announced Thursday for the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District.

The park district will receive $250,000 from the National Recreation and Park Association and the American Water Charitable Foundation to build a splash pad at the St. Cloud Commons all-inclusive playground.

The park district, along with the City of Alton Parks and Recreation in Alton, Illinois, were announced as recipients in the 2019 Building Better Communities grant program Thursday.

The grant program, now in its sixth year, helps communities create or enhance public park spaces or programs encouraging the community to engage in water- and nature-inspired play, connect to the natural world, and focus on environmental education and water-based recreation. The grants also help communities engaging children and families in the areas surrounding parks.

The Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District will use its $250,000 grant to create the St. Cloud All-Inclusive Splashpad, which will provide an accessible water experience to families of all abilities. It will be specially designed to accommodate those with mobility issues and other disabilities. Included in the project will be environmentally friendly design elements, such as bioswales and water-permeable surfacing. The bioswales are channels to help direct stormwater off to recharge the groundwater. Water-permeable surfacing allows water to filter through pavements to recharge groundwater.

Also as part of the grant, the park district will hold educational programs on water quality and environmental conservation at the park.

The city of Alton will use its grant money to build a splash pad overlooking the Mississippi River, a first of its kind for the area.

"We are pleased to partner with Alton and Huntington to provide these outdoor spaces so children and families can learn, interact and appreciate water, a critical natural resource, in a fun and engaging way," said Carrie Williams, president of the American Water Charitable Foundation, in a statement. “American Water is committed to being a good neighbor and a good steward of the environment and ensuring that every community we serve is stronger because we are there.”

The splash pad will be the latest addition to the all-inclusive playground as the park district seeks to raise funds to finish the final phases of the project.

The playground officially opened in November 2018 and is totally wheelchair accessible. There's a slide that forms out of a tree trunk, a zip line, a rope spinner and plenty to climb on.

The next phase, currently in construction, will include all-inclusive restrooms, including an adult changing station, and a resurfaced parking lot with new lighting. The final phase will include more playground equipment, including new swings.

This will be the first splash pad in Huntington. Currently, there is a splash pad at the Barboursville Park and one at the April Dawn Park in Milton.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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