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Local

Ashton making a splash with project

Water play area under construction

ASHTON – Summer is expected to start with a splash in Ashton.

In April, construction began on a splash pad on the campus of Ashton-Franklin Center High School.

“This is a great opportunity for our community,” said Andrew Kida, a former village trustee who supported the project. “It’s one of those things you don’t often see in small communities. A lot of people put in hard work for this. We’re hoping for a long, hot summer for the kids to enjoy it.”

For every person who is opposed to the project, he said, two others back it.

In 2012, the village received $117,500 from the state Department of Natural Resources for the pad, which is an area for water play that has no standing water.

Ashton also got a matching grant from the local Blum Foundation, set up after the death of Ashton resident Marilyn Blum in 2003.

The project underwent much debate.

At a public forum in 2011, Trustee Dave Balch held a public forum on the issue. He and others recommended Griffith Park on the village’s north side, which, officials said, would require land acquisition.

Supporters of the high school site said it would require no land acquisition. They also said the visibility would make Ashton a more attractive place to live.

In July 2012, the village trustees voted 4-3 to seek Blum Foundation money. Without the foundation’s money, Kida and others said at the time, the village would have to turn down the state grant.

Ashton officials planned a more intricate splash pad than the Dixon Park District’s, which opened a few years ago at a cost of $27,000.

Dixon’s park, which is next to the former Memorial Pool on Custer Avenue, features water shooting up from the ground.

According to the weekly Ashton Gazette, the construction project was expected to last 4 weeks.

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