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Dueling splash pads? Could the Sault end up with two instead of one?

This week, city officials will launch a major fundraising drive for a splash pad in Bellevue Park. But behind the scenes, neither the city nor the Downtown Association have thrown in the towel on a second splash pad in Clergue Park
What's Elliot Lake got that Sault Ste. Marie doesn't? A splash pad! The just-completed facility located at Kiwanis Park (Rio Den Arena) was officially open Monday and may stay open another two weeks if warm weather lingers. Photo by Melanie Farenzena from SooToday's new sister site Elliot Lake Today

Later this week, the City of Sault Ste. Marie will announce its application for an Aviva Community Fund grant for the Bellevue Park splash pad project.

A video has been prepared featuring excruciatingly cute local kids hollering: "We want a splash pad!"

One particularly delightful child, possessing rather better manners than her friends, irresistibly adds: "Puuuulllleeeeaaassssse?????"

We'll be urged to get behind the Sault's cutest kids, vote for the Bellevue splash pad and forward the Aviva solicitation with annoying frequency to every last one of our social media friends.

When members of the city's splash pad subcommittee viewed the video Monday night, no one had told them about a fledgling campaign being pulled together by the Downtown Association to put a second splash pad in Clergue Park.

"Excellent. Good for them," said Ward 1 Councillor Paul Christian, the subcommittee's chair, said when advised by SooToday of the potential for dueling splash pads.

"There's nothing wrong with that. We're all citizens of the city. It's all for the city," Christian said.

The Downtown Association had pushed hard to have the city's project moved from Bellevue to Clergue, but in the end City Council approved the $550,000 Bellevue project.

At its September meeting, however, the downtowners clearly weren't ready to throw in the towel.

The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie is looking for a major project to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.

The club has donated $20,000 to the Bellevue project but it's known that many of its members would prefer the splash pad be located closer to the city's core.

Grace Tridico asked the Downtown Association on Sept. 12 to consider approaching the Rotarians to see whether they would consider making a larger donation to a Clergue Park splash pad.

"I think there's room for our own splash pad downtown," responded Downtown Association chair Bryan Hayes, who added that there might be other opportunities to partner with Rotary: things like an added Clergue Park ice rink or climbing walls.

Paul Scornaienchi, the association's vice chair, pointed to a City Council discussion last month that suggested the city itself may put a splash pad in Clergue Park.

Councillors were discussing a ranked list of capital project priorities for 2018.

Ranked 29th on the list well below the threshold for projects actually expected to be completed next year – was a $450,000 replacement for the scrapped Millennium Fountain.

Ward 2 Councillor Susan Myers pointed out that City Council had only approved a simple land-based replacement fountain and the $450,000 price tag was considerably higher than the prefab structure she had expected.

"We weren't looking for something terribly elaborate, just a land fountain," Myers said.

It turned our that city staff had considerably expanded the Clergue Park project and the new concept plan might include a splash pad, lighting fixture, even a skating rink.

Larry Girardi, the city's deputy chief administrative office for public works and engineering, disclosed that the additional elements had been proposed by Tom Vair, deputy CAO for community development and enterprise servicesand Virginia McLeod, manager of recreation and culture.

Scornaienchi told the Downtown Association he figured City Hall is up to something.

"There's something happening that's not being discussed with us here at this table, that's being discussed at City Hall for Clergue," Scornaiench- said.

"There's something in the works there that's not being discussed and it is a Clergue location."

Councillor Myers wanted a scaled-down Millenium Fountain built next year but Mayor Christian Provenzano said the Clergue Park project is unlikely to be completed until 2019.

City Council will further discuss the capital budget priorities later this month.

As for the City Council-approved Bellevue splash pad, Councillor Christian said the design is still being developed.

"We want some elements that are tall, that stand out, that appeal to older children. We talked about an area that's designed for younger kids," Christian said.