The Splash Park at Lions Park in Ontario opens Thursday, May 30. (The Enterprise/Kristine de Leon)

ONTARIO – Get ready to splash into the summer! 

The long-awaited splash pad at Lions Park in Ontario is opening this week.

The city will open the gates Thursday at 5 p.m., with a dedication ceremony set for 5:30 p.m.

The event is open to the public and will include a free barbecue by the Ontario Fire & Rescue Department and live music by a local DJ until 7 p.m.

The construction of the splash park marks the first phase of a more ambitious plan developed by the Friends of the Aquatic Center, a grassroots group formed in 2016 by Ontario residents. 

The new water park is part of a long-term project to remodel and re-open the aquatic center, which closed in 2013.

To help pay for the splash pad, the Friends of the Aquatic Center raised $185,012 in donations and the city pitched in grant money from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

The city contracted with Warrington Construction, Holcomb and Anderson Poolworks for the construction work, which began last year following the groundbreaking February 2018. 

The final price tag came out to $842,59.

The Friends of the Aquatic Center initially sought to charge $2 for admission, according to City Manager Adam Brown. However, Ontario City Council voted last Tuesday to waive the fee. 

The city council also approved $7,000 from its contingency fund to cover the water park operations temporarily. Brown said the money would pay to test the water, which is required every two hours, and to maintain the park.

“We’re working on an agreement with the Boys and Girls Club staff to do the water testing initially,” said Brown. “The city is overseeing the operation for just month of June. After that, the Recreation District is fully taking over the assets and responsibility starting July 1.” 

After the grand opening Thursday, the splash pad will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

News tip? Reporter Kristine de Leon: news@malheurenterprise.com or 541-473-3377.

For the latest news, follow the Enterprise on Facebook and Twitter.

SUBSCRIBE TO UNDERWRITE VITAL REPORTING -- The Malheur Enterprise increasingly relies on reader subscriptions to fund its operations. For $5 a month, you get breaking news alerts, emailed newsletters and around-the-clock access to our stories. We depend on subscribers to pay for in-depth, accurate news produced by a professional and highly trained staff. Help us grow and get better with your subscription. Sign up HERE.