June 17, 2010, a tornado hit the Wadena City pool leaving behind a crumbled mess of cement blocks and metal fence along Seventh Street.

Almost 10 years later, on Tuesday, June 16, the city brought back some of the excitement once had at near that site by opening a splash pad. The momentously wet occasion was welcomed as temperatures surpassed 90 degrees in the afternoon.

The opening was held off until just after 12:30 p.m. as the project had to undergo an inspection for public use. After passing inspection, a crowd of children bounced about nearby eager to get in.

Ruger and Avery Oyster both announced that the opening was "exciting!" Moms in the mix were glad to see the option open up as temperatures were on the rise and water was on the minds of their kids.

Avery Oyster clings to a spinning sprinkler moments after the splash pad opened Tuesday afternoon in Fink's Park in Wadena.
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
Avery Oyster clings to a spinning sprinkler moments after the splash pad opened Tuesday afternoon in Fink's Park in Wadena. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

The pad design and purchase were approved last May at a cost of $108,000. The splash pad was paid for with about half coming from donations and grants and half from city funds.

It includes 15 spray features and is handicap accessible. A splash pad is essentially a large concrete pad with numerous water features spraying water, which all drains into the center of the pad. There should be no standing water. The water features are on a timer so once the system begins operation at 10 a.m., a user must press a button in the middle of the pad to start the water. After 3 minutes, the system turns off until the button is pressed again.

The water system shuts off at 8 p.m. each night, to coincide with the same hours as the nearby wading pool.

Wadena Public Works director Dan Kovar previously said the Wadena park board identified the splash pad as a project they wanted to pursue in 2013, not long after the public swimming pool was destroyed by a tornado. While a pool was constructed within the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center, a desire remained to have an additional water feature to go with the remaining wading pool.

Park board members shared comments during a groundbreaking last July related to how a lot of people wanted to see that pool return, but a lot of excitement has built around this splash park coming in to fill a small area of the large southwest park. Former city council woman Deb Wiese said it provides free entertainment for the community in a location that much of the neighborhood can get to with little transportation. That free factor is an important one, park board member Dean Krogstad pointed out.

In writing grants for this project, Krogstad said he had to answer the question of why this project was needed when the town has such a facility as the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center. The fact is, many people in the community can't pay the fee for each of their kids to go to the pool. Anyone can go to this splash pad.

This water feature is part of Fink's Park located on Seventh Street SW. The park also has a wading pool, playground, tennis and basketball courts, baseball diamond, picnic shelter and features a Memorial garden area in remembrance of the devastation of the 2010 tornado that struck that very spot.