Sponsor Spotlight: Dunaway

How the City of Dallas Went All in on Delivering Recreation Opportunities to Its Citizens

A little water can go a long way – just ask thousands of kids in Dallas. With great fanfare, the City opened six new spraygrounds across Dallas this summer. This is just another milestone in the commitment to have dynamic aquatic experiences for all citizens. For over ten years, the Dallas Park and Recreation Department has delivered on its promise for exceptional aquatic resources. This includes big-time fun at family aquatic centers, and everyday fun at vibrant spraygrounds. The colorful spraygrounds have re-energized mature parks and activated neighborhood gatherings.

Dunaway Associates Nash-DavisBut it wasn’t an easy path getting there. All six spraygrounds had to be designed, approved, and constructed in less than one year. That’s lightning bolt speed for a public project. It took an “all-in” effort from the City, Dunaway, and the contractor. “Being selected to design these spraygrounds for the City of Dallas was a tremendous honor and challenge due to the fast-track schedule,” said Adam Brewster, project manager for Dunaway.

There were other requirements that added to the complexity of the project. “Our mandate from the City was to provide an equal level of service at each location, while creating unique designs that respond to the park and communities around them. All six spraygrounds are around 3,000 square feet and have their own distinct geometry, vibrant colors, and fun water-play features. Each one engages kids, both young and old.” said Brewster.

The initial challenge for Dunaway was the timeline. City officials sent their Dunaway counterparts an email on June 27, 2018, notifying the firm that the City Council had approved this contract. However, they wanted the spraygrounds ready by the Spring of 2019. A challenging timeline for most projects, the City and Dunaway charged forward with a proactive mindset.

“The Park and Recreation Department fast-tracked the design and construction and established a collaborative team at the beginning,” said David Mills, City Project Manager. “It was determined early-on to contract with a sprayground contractor through the Texas Buy Board cooperative agreement. This saved design and procurement time. The contractor provided a construction price at the end of the design development phase, which was approved by the Park and Recreation Board and City Council.”

Dunaway Associates Nash-DavisEveryone worked in tandem together: coordination meetings were held bi-weekly with multiple City departments to identify any permitting issues in order to save time once a permit application was submitted; in-house construction staff in the Park and Recreation Department’s Facility Services Division performed the utility work, and Park and Recreation Department’s Maintenance Division installed the irrigation system and landscaping.

What made the timely accomplishment even more impressive was the decision to produce six structures that had designs unique to each park while using the same square footage and materials. The site-specific designs were Dunaway’s idea, which embraced the City’s desire for originality. The City wanted each sprayground to feel special while providing “an equal level of service.” Additionally, each of the six spraygrounds were built to fit carefully within existing parks. While they all have the same elements, each sprayground was custom designed to consider individual nearby amenities, such as trails and picnic areas. 

At the same time, the City wanted the cost benefits that come with using consistency in mechanical filtration systems. This approach is comparable to how automotive manufacturers use the same drivetrain for different models – equating, in this instance, to savings during construction and with ongoing maintenance.

Dunaway Associates Nash-DavisEach structure needed to meet code requirements to make maintenance easier, as well as the traditional requirements of keeping all pooled water underground, so that there is never more than three inches of water on the surface. Other challenges that Dunaway addressed included the requirement involving public interactive water features, and water balloon debris. Public regulations require that water be sanitized two times, once with chlorine (like a swimming pool), and a second time with ultraviolet light. Water balloon debris is a common issue for spraygrounds and a maintenance nightmare that causes clogged drains and damaged pump equipment. Dunaway designed and implemented a custom filtration system that met the public sanitation requirements, and devised a debris screener with two 24-inch filter baskets that mitigated the water balloon concerns. 

Other important elements to the project included:

  • using non-slip surfacing, using an acrylic cement topping to mitigate the risk of slip and falls;
  • creating ample seating and shaded areas around the perimeter to maximize spectator comfort as well as adding seat walls and group tables for participants; and 
  • varying the intensity of the water features throughout the sprayground, based on the age of the participants. 

Dallas kids and families have enthusiastically responded. Each ribbon cutting has included kids — eagerly waiting in their swimsuits — ready for some fun! As City councilman Omar Narvaez said with a big smile, “ribbon cuttings are my favorite days — everybody is happy.” In a fresh way, these spraygrounds have rebranded the parks and neighborhoods they serve. And, they’re free. So kids are smiling and City leaders are smiling in Dallas.

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