The Park District of Forest Park should have everything ready to go to allow for new splash pads at the Aquatic Center to open this summer – though Executive Director Jackie Iovinelli told the Review that, given all the delays the project has already seen, she is keeping her fingers firmly crossed.

While it was originally supposed to open during the 2022 season, supply chain issues and damage caused when a crowd of teens stormed the Aquatic Center that June, pushed the construction back, and the district had to pause construction when the weather got cold. But the park district was ultimately able to overcome those hurdles. In her April 20 project update, Iovinelli told the park district board they still needed to install a mechanism that controls the water sprays and get an all-clear from the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

The splash pad area was designed by Naperville-based Hitchcock Design Group, the same firm that’s working with the park district on pocket park improvements, to create an area geared more toward kids than the all-aged pool. The area will have three separate splash pads. The Town Splash Pad at the south end of the grounds features hoops and larger spray fountains, with a snake-like pattern drawn across the pad. The Jousting Grounds splash pad will, as the name suggests, feature forward-facing water sprays that kids can aim at each other, along with a spray fountain in the middle. The Castle splash pad on the north side of the grounds includes a water slide and several smaller spray fountains.

Iovinelli told the board that their hiring is 70% complete, and they don’t expect any issues with lifeguards. The state public health agency plans to conduct an inspection on May 8. Staff training will be conducted the week of May 12 and the park district will do a “final walkthrough” on May 19.

Iovinelli told the board that she was happy to see the long process reach a conclusion.

“The nice thing is we have a beautiful facility, and, no matter what the headaches were, it’s going to be phenomenal,” she said. “I can’t wait for the kids to walk through the gate. Their eyes will light up.”