Phase I of the long-awaited Splashplex opened this month at Alexander City’s sportplex with fountains and bucket drops for kids and a shade pavilion for parents and grandparents. The recreation feature is located on the main drive through the 212-acre park, near the recently updated Imagination Station playground, and like other recreational facilities at the park, use of the splash pad will be free.

“If everybody will do the right thing and follow the rules, we will leave it open from 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 in the evening,” said Alexander City Parks and Rec Director Sonny Wilson.

The project has been on Wilson’s wish list for seven years, but it was among the first items cut every time the budget needed to be trimmed, Wilson said.

“I had just about given up on ever getting it until Tallapoosa County Commissioner Steve Robinson came to me and said he wanted to do something for the kids to do around Tallapoosa County. He paid half the cost of it,” Wilson said.

Wilson sat down with Robinson and Alexander City City Councilman Scott Hardy to come up with the plan. When the Leadership Lake Martin Green Team heard about the project, they set out to raise the money for the pavilion.

“They are doing a very nice pavilion. It will have seating and lights and ceiling fans,” Wilson said. “We will dedicate the pavilion in memory of Jennifer Baker.”

Baker was a longtime employee at the Parks and Rec Department. She passed away after a battle with cancer.

The City of Alexander City paid the remainder of the $50,000 equipment and installation, and Green Team members Susan McCrispin, Tammi Montgomery, Lauren Fields, Chad Jones and Tyler Hancock spearheaded the effort to raise $16,000 for the pavilion, Wilson said. City departments prepared the site and ran water lines and utilities for the pad, which was installed by My Splash Pad out of Louisville, Ohio. A donor-recognition plaque, featuring the names of donors in splashes, will be posted on a wall at the site.

The splash pad area includes four water features: elevated buckets that fill up and tip over to drop water on children below them; a fire hydrant that shoots a stream of water; a mushroom rain fountain and sprinklers that children could run through.

In addition to the roughly 30-foot by 30-foot water feature and the pavilion, the project will include a walking track. The area will be fenced in to keep children from running into the road.

Wilson said the original pad is only the beginning, as more features will be added in the coming years.

“If it goes well, we’ll add to it. We have a big enough area that we can do that,” he said.

While the water feature will not be specifically monitored during hours of operation, Wilson said, Alexander City Police Department patrols make frequent passes through the park and maintain surveillance and visibility around the clock.

Additional recreational facilities at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex include a 3-mile walking trail through open and wooded sections, disk golf, an archery range, ball fields, picnic grounds, a horse riding arena and a football stadium.