Cool relief out of commission: No joy at Amherst spray park

Keaton Stewart, 10, right, and her sister Ryland, 8, shield themselves with an umbrella while enjoying the splash pad at Groff Park in Amherst on June 18, during last month’s heat wave.

Keaton Stewart, 10, right, and her sister Ryland, 8, shield themselves with an umbrella while enjoying the splash pad at Groff Park in Amherst on June 18, during last month’s heat wave. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Keaton Stewart, 10, right, and her sister Ryland, 8, shield themselves with an umbrella while enjoying the splash pad at Groff Park in Amherst on June 18, during last month’s heat wave.

Keaton Stewart, 10, right, and her sister Ryland, 8, shield themselves with an umbrella while enjoying the splash pad at Groff Park in Amherst on June 18, during last month’s heat wave. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Keaton Stewart, 10, right, and her sister Ryland, 8, shield themselves with an umbrella while enjoying the splash pad at Groff Park in Amherst during Tuesday’s heat wave.

Keaton Stewart, 10, right, and her sister Ryland, 8, shield themselves with an umbrella while enjoying the splash pad at Groff Park in Amherst during Tuesday’s heat wave. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

Amherst’s only splash pad, at Groff Park, remained empty Tuesday as mechanical difficulties plagued the water feature.

Amherst’s only splash pad, at Groff Park, remained empty Tuesday as mechanical difficulties plagued the water feature. STAFF PHOTO/SCOTT MERZBACH

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 07-09-2024 7:01 PM

AMHERST — Groff Park on Mill Lane, usually filled with children playing and families gathered during the warm weather, was nearly empty Tuesday afternoon, as the town’s only splash pad and the park’s restrooms remained closed with temperatures expected to hit the low 90s this week, coupled with high humidity.

The spray park has been closed all this week during some of the hottest days of the year and with a National Weather Service heat advisory remaining in effect through Wednesday at 8 p.m.

At the entrance to the accessible playground and the neighboring water features that opened in the summer of 2020, which are supposed be available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, a sign reads: “Spray park is temporarily out of service. Your patience is appreciated as we work to restore the issue.”

In addition, signs indicating the bathrooms are out of service were also posted on doors to the restroom building.

The town website has put up similar information, with any updates expected there.

Samantha Giffen, the town’s communications manager, said repairs to the spray park are imminent, with the Department of Public Works waiting for a replacement motor that pushes the water through the spray park elements.

The facility first went down on June 24, but was quickly repaired, before being shut down again two days later, Giffen said.

The wading pool at Mill River Recreation Area in North Amherst remains open for children, which, like the spray park, is free to use. Aging wading pools at both Groff Park and Community Field, next to War Memorial Pool, were demolished several years ago. Puffer’s Pond, though, remains closed to swimming due to high levels of E. coli bacteria.

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Groff Park had also been affected by a water main break that was preventing water from getting to the site and repairs are still happening. That situation initially appeared to be resolved Tuesday morning, based on an Amherst Recreation Facebook page post: “Water service has been temporarily restored to Groff Park restroom facilities,”

But the town website later clarified that the repair wasn’t effective. “The temporary repair is not providing the pressure needed for plumbing to operate functionally according to demand.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.