The City of Pittsburgh’s aquatic playgrounds make a splash

Troy Hill and Beechview aren’t your ordinary playgrounds. And, they’re winning awards. They are part of the City of Pittsburgh’s master plan to replace old swimming pools with aquatic playgrounds. About six years ago, City Parks Director Duane Ashley began to research aquatic parks and presented the idea to the mayor.

“We were interested in developing new play areas that are fun and accessible, as well as safe and cost-effective. Aquatic playgrounds fit that bill. They’re growing in popularity around the country, and for good reason, ” says Ashley.

Aquatic playgrounds are low maintenance and do not require the supervision of lifeguards. Their water features are fun and unpredictable. Children of all abilities can enjoy them because the water drains away before it can accumulate, reducing drowning risks. Spray parks also have longer operating seasons compared to traditional swimming pools: from early spring to late fall.

In 2008, Troy Hill Aquatic Playground was voted the top spray park in Pittsburgh Magazine. The City’s second park, Beechview, will open this spring.

“Designing an aquatic playground is very different from a regular playground,” explains Jim Sauer, the project architect and principal of J.T. Sauer & Associates. “Most consultants don’t have experience in spay park design, but J.T. Sauer & Associates and General Recreation do.”

“Curtis Bischof has been a tremendous help. He develops flow rates for the water, works with the clients to answer concerns about the products, and is hands-on in handling all of the hardware and programming himself.”

The Beechview Aquatic Park will feature the Water Odyssey™ product line and other amenities that will make it a “no boundaries park,” fully accessible to children with special needs.

Bischof has been instrumental in the development of other award-winning Pittsburgh parks, including three hillside playgrounds. “We’re thrilled to continue building creative and progressive recreational areas in the City through this new era of aquatic playgrounds,” adds Bischof.

To learn more, contact General Recreation, Inc. at 800-726-4793 or sales@gen-rec.com

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