Less than four years after its last and almost total make-over–a 30-month slog that cost $4.7 million–James F. Holland Memorial Park’s latest renovation, at just over $5 million, is nearing completion, and with it a new “splash pad” that will open daily for families this spring and summer. New playground features were made accessible this winter.
“I am so excited to celebrate the completion of all of the magnificent renovations to Holland Park,” said Mayor Milissa Holland. The park is named after her father, one of the city founders and a member opf the original City Council until his death in 2002. “This amenity has been transformed into a regional attraction that will be a family favorite for multi-generational guests in our community for years to come.”
Construction on the multi-million dollar phase two improvements of one of Palm Coast’s most popular parks, at 18 Florida Park Drive, began in May of 2019, but not without a little controversy. A 3-2 council approved the construction phase that included the splash pad, with then-Council member Bob Cuff joining Holland and Nick Klufas to give the go-ahead. Then-Council member Jack Howell voiced strong opposition to the splash pad, saying it would be a magnet for lawsuits. Council member Eddie Branquinho joined him to oppose the plan, but on financial grounds.
Splash pads have become a common feature of public and theme parks.
Howell wasn’t wrong, though it’s difficult to gauge the relative severity of the issue without a census of splash pads measured against the incidence of lawsuits. Still, in just the past 12 months, the city of Lake Jackson, Texas, faced a $1 million lawsuit in the death of Josiah McIntyre, a 6-year-old boy alleged to have contracted an amoeba while playing in the city’s splash pad. Edwardsville, a small town in southern Illinois, faces a $200,000 lawsuit over a 4-year-old boy who broke his leg at that city’s splash pad. A family is suing the city of Bourne, Mass., for almost $1 million over their child’s loss of a toe on a splash-pad slide.
The splash pad design at Holland Park reflects the river, ocean, lakes and swampy areas. There are 41 spray features – water fountains and sprayers – shaped like a frog, turtle, octopus, whale, manta ray, starfish, sand dollar, lily pad and cattail. Nine spray loops were also installed and soon children will be able to spray their friends with water cannons.
On the playground, about 20 new pieces of equipment were installed for toddlers and children. Little ones will be able to climb a treehouse, explore a steam engine and carriage, and operate a play dozer. The playground is designed so children can develop their motor skills, learn through play and take on new challenges in a safe environment. There are also inclusive elements with accessibility features added to the playground as well as new family swings to climb on and sway back and forth together.
Other features of phase two improvements include:
- Covered pavilions added at the playground, small dog park, horseshoe, and shuffleboard areas to provide more shade;
- New bocce ball court with shade canopy covering, deck with seating, lighting, and hydro-irrigation system for the clay court;
- Restroom update at pavilion 3;
- Construction of a new maintenance building;
- New LED lighting;
Parks and Recreation staff are following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for safety and cleanliness. The full CDC guidelines are accessible here.
Phase one renovations upgraded infrastructure and utilities, new playground equipment was added including the popular zip line. Sand volleyball, two new basketball courts and two horseshoe pits were also constructed.
Holland Park offers 26 acres of diverse recreational amenities and is also the home to the Palm Coast Historical Society headquarters. Visitors can also play tennis, pickleball, shuffleboard, basketball, horseshoes, volleyball, baseball/softball, and utilize the multi-use fields for soccer, football, etc. There is also a three-quarter mile trail and a dog park.
The next major public park project on the city’s five-year capital improvement plan is the construction of a neighborhood park in Quail Hollow in 2022 and some renovations at the municipal pool once known as Frieda Zamba.