PATEROS — A nice, long park stretches along the Columbia River in downtown Pateros, dotted with shade trees and docks stretching out into the water.
But there’s no swimming in the river from Memorial Park. City officials say it’s not safe because of the river currents.
This summer, kids in Pateros have a couple of new options when they want to get wet.
A splash pad at the Pateros Mall was completed last fall and — despite the relatively cool start to summer — kids have already been using it to, well, splash in.
The concrete pad, which recirculates treated water, includes three central jets that constantly shoot water into the sky. They’re surrounded by a handful of other outlets that spurt water out unexpectedly.
And, at Peninsula Park, the Douglas County PUD just finished putting in a new beach, and a path to it from the parking area, making swimming there more accessible and usable.
That park is in a residential part of Pateros, and the reconstructed swimming hole is in the Methow River, just before it spills into the Columbia at the Highway 97 bridge.
They’re two separate projects that should make summer more fun for people who live in or visit Pateros.
The upgrades at Peninsula Park are part of the Douglas County PUD’s five-year recreation plan, required by relicensing of Wells Dam to bring opportunities to communities impacted by the dam.
The most recent work included cutting a beach into the hillside, building a block wall with a railing, and installing a stairway and concrete path to the new beach, said PUD spokeswoman Meaghan Vibbert.
“That’s gotten to be a pretty good little area,” she said, noting the park also has playground equipment and a gazebo.
Hurst Construction in Wenatchee won the $65,800 bid to complete the project.
Over in the downtown area, a new splash pad was completed last fall, but didn’t get much use until this spring, said Mayor Gail Howe.
“I’m hoping as we move into summer and have warmer weather, we see more people relaxing there, and kids playing in the water,” she said.
She said the fountain could help attract visitors and locals to the town’s only downtown business area, known as the Pateros Mall.
“That is our commercial business district. We’re not like other cities, where you’re all spread out. Our Pateros Mall is basically our Main Street,” she said.
Jord Wilson, who works for the town’s parks department, designed the splash pad when he was still working for Rocky Pointe Landscaping, before getting the parks job.
“The city wanted a water feature, and they wanted something the kids could play in,” he said. “The idea is for it to be both aesthetically pleasing, and something that’s safe for the kids,” he said.
So far, children have been delighted by the intermittent squirting of water jets that surprise them by coming on randomly, he said. “The kids have a lot of fun. They don’t know where the water’s going to come from next.”
The splash fountain all but completes the city’s efforts to improve what’s known as the Pateros Mall.
Howe said in addition to attracting visitors, Pateros hopes the new water feature sparks a renewed commercial interest in Pateros. There are eight vacant lots in the mall, she said, which is basically Pateros’ only business district.
The splash pad was constructed by the city with about $15,000 from Okanogan County’s infrastructure funds, Howe said. She said over the last decade, the city has received about $120,000 from the fund, and has used much of it to put in a walking trail and install nine historical signs — five in the Pateros Mall, and four along the river walkway.
“We’ve been wanting for a long time to have some kind of children’s play area where they could get wet, since Pateros is on the Columbia River and it’s not safe to swim there,” she said. “We decided by doing the splash pad on the other side of the road, we would bring the water to them.”
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512