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Blue Mound State Park
By Ayres Associates


Blue Mound State Park is a campground-themed aquatic playground located in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. The 14-foot-tall splashpad includes pine trees, a double-sized tent and water cannons. The interactive water features are hydraulically connected and sequenced around the pad.


Five brown poles with fire carvings at the top make up the campfire that shoots out water as the children stand underneath it. Scattered throughout the playground are ground sprays.

The Blue Mound State Park splashpad in Blue Mounds, Wis., is one of 18 splashpads constructed by Ayres Associates in the last nine years. At Blue Mound State Park, the Ayres team of project manager and lead designer Blake Theisen, and civil engineer Katie MacDonald, worked with the state Department of Natural Resources to develop a one-of-a-kind campground-themed splashpad and swimming pool complex that incorporated creative, custom, and kid-friendly elements while blending with the rustic landscape and staying true to the DNR's mission.

Fun in the Sun: Splashpad Enhances Park Experience for Patrons
The campground-themed splashpad at Blue Mound State Park is really making a splash with its patrons. And how could it not, considering how chock full of fun the water features of the southern Wisconsin splashpad is filled with? Among them are a 14-foot-tall, campfire-themed interactive spray feature, a double-sized tent aimed to soak kids as they shoot through it, water cannons painted to look like chipmunks and squirrels, and giant pine trees that rain water, all guaranteed to keep kids cool - and entertained - all summer long.

And it's all by design.

Theisen listened to the client's and community's needs and used that information to find the essence of the site it was going into. "We try to have some sort of custom element in every project. I feel pretty strongly that all of our pads should have some individual character," said Theisen. Theisen also designed the Lakeview Park splashpad in nearby Middleton, which was reported to be one of the first in Wisconsin and a standard for splashpad design in the state.

Bringing extensive experience in pool and aquatic facility design, Ayres also designed a new swimming pool as part of the facility reconstruction project.


Squirrel and chipmunk faces were painted on three animal cannons to entertain the children and provide a wildlife environment.


The new bean-shaped swimming pool is located near the splashpad and is approximately 50'x 60' in dimension. It has a 1,974-square-foot surface area and holds 59,100 gallons of water.

Splashpads, also referred to as aquatic playgrounds, spray parks, and splash parks, have skyrocketed in popularity since the mid-2000s, according to Theisen and MacDonald. They have found that many municipal pools were reaching or exceeding their life expectancy, leaving clients wondering whether to invest millions of dollars to rebuild their pool or spend a fraction of the cost and install an interactive water feature, which typically has far fewer needs for long-term maintenance, upkeep, and staffing.

"They are reasonably affordable for a community to construct and to maintain. There aren't as many liability issues associated with them as there sometimes can be for pools. They do not require lifeguards, which can be a cost savings for communities, and they fit into almost any kind of landscape," MacDonald said. "Pool facilities just take a lot more of everything, whereas a splashpad can fit into almost any location in a community."

When designing splashpads - in Blue Mounds and beyond - Theisen and MacDonald consider a host of factors, including parking, ADA standards, shade, location, and proximity to restrooms. "All of that comes into play. If this is going into a pre-existing site, we will definitely make sure that there is ample parking and that it's very close to restroom facilities, and potential changing rooms need to be within a couple hundred feet of the splashpad," MacDonald said.

They are also mindful of important behind-the-scenes events, such as the programmed water sequences and interactive features that are hydraulically tied together. If one child stops the pressure on a feature by covering the spray nozzle with his or her foot, it influences the pressure on a feature another youngster is playing with. Splashpad features are typically sequenced around the pad so that it's always a guessing game as to where the water's coming from next, Theisen explained.

As seen in LASN magazine, July 2018.

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April 22, 2019, 3:56 am PDT

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