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Elizabeth Adapts Unused Space for New Splash Park

By Elizabeth Bell

During the annual League of Municipalities in Atlantic City, the New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers (NJSME) recognizes outstanding municipal engineering projects throughout the State. This year, we’re proud that three of our projects have received this honor. This week, we introduce the Miller-Evans-Logan Recreation Center, honorable mention in the NJSME’s Construction Management category.

The Miller-Evans-Logan Recreation Center offers the City of Elizabeth’s youth a place for activity and amusement. But the site originally included two buildings. One of which is the main recreation center which sits on half of the site and is fully utilized by the community. The other had sat unused for years due to safety concerns. Though the neglected structure was in a state of disrepair, Elizabeth saw the potential the site had for redevelopment. The City decided to adapt this wasted space to answer the community’s demand for a water play area. The goal for this addition was to provide a safe environment that was suitable for all ages and could withstand many years of intensive use. In order to accomplish this, our engineers custom designed many aspects.


The new water park introduced short and tall slides, mounted spray toys, water-play and shade structures, ADA compliance and a mechanical building to house the most up-to-date utilities. But the crowning feature is the 26-gallon dumping bucket that sits atop the slide platform. Every three minutes, the bucket fills up with water until it topples over and spills onto visitors underneath.


Because upkeep of a water park can be expensive, materials were chosen to keep the cost burden on the City low. The state-of-the-art rainmaker system is programmed to start and stop the water at specific times, while a series of valves were designed to provide operators with control of each of the water park’s apparatuses. This entire system interacts with activation bollards that use photo sensors to pick up movement. If no one is using the park, the water remains off, but upon movement, the water will kick on. This keeps the City from wasting water.


As safety is of the utmost importance, a lead free backflow preventer was installed to prohibit contaminants from entering the water supply. Children who undoubtedly end up drinking the water are safe from pollutants. The slides were designed to have an additional nine feet at the end to protect users from coming off the slide too quickly.

The drainage system was designed to drain the site naturally through back-pitched drain pipes, draining condensation during winter; which can otherwise cause costly issues. To further assist in draining the site, a small patch of synthetic turf was installed nearby which allows water to permeate the surface. This turf does double duty as park goers use it for a moment of respite from the active water park.


All of the utilities are housed in a prefabricated, insulated building complete with a heater and air vent to withstand any severe weather changes. Benches and picnic tables were given an extra leg for additional support against wear and tear, and unique privacy fencing was specially created and implemented to the benefit of next door residencies.  Combining these measures helped offset the cost burden on the City and ensured the longevity of the park.


The new water park at Miller-Evans-Logan Recreation Center opened in June 2016 and was a resounding success. It grants residents a leisurely spot for the whole family and promises a fun place to cool off for years to come.


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