Update (Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021)
On Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, the Town of Greater Napanee issued a statement regarding the collapse of the largest water feature in the Rotary Park splash pad, which took place on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2021.
“In the early afternoon on Saturday, August 21, a structural component of the Greater Napanee Splash Pad known as the ‘bucket spinner’ fell to the concrete surface during operating hours. The component has been removed from the Splash Pad and Town staff are working with the manufacturer and installer to determine what caused the failure,” the Greater Napanee Parks and Facilities department said in an email to Kingstonist.
“All other components are being re-inspected to ensure the safety of all patrons. Fortunately, there were no injuries caused by the incident. The Splash Pad will remain open during regular operating hours.”
A heavy steel water feature came crashing down, causing a scare at Napanee’s Rotary Park Splash Pad on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021.
The Zandbergen family had gathered their extended family at the popular park for an outdoor visit while their children played.
Rebecca Zandbergen was on her way home from Ottawa to London when she stopped to visit family at the park in Napanee. “We were planning to go onto the splash pad after we had played at the park, which was a really nice park,” she said. “We were sitting a ways away, and we heard a loud crash. We walked over and saw that one of the structures had fallen,” she said.
“It was really alarming because it’s huge and it is metal. Someone could have been badly injured or killed.”
The tall water feature is intended to be “spun around” by a circular handle while water splashes down from two buckets.
Scott Zandbergen, who is a new resident in Napanee, is Rebecca’s brother. He said he came back to the area after leaving the park for a few minutes and was surprised, “I don’t think people really realized how close a call that might have been because there were kids still playing. It was pretty scary, but kids continued to play and splash around because it was a super hot day.”
Some bystanders thought it would be good to move the broken structure out of the play area for safety, said Scott. It took a group of several people to drag it off because, “You couldn’t budge the thing. It’s gotta be 400 pounds.” But the group managed to pull it off to the side.
Rebecca said she wasn’t sure who to call. She couldn’t find an after-hours number for the Town of Napanee, however, “The mayor’s number is very handy on the website, I just called her cell phone and she picked up. And so I talked to her and she said, ‘okay, I’ll look into it.’ Then she called me back, which I didn’t know she was going to, ( she used my name, which I thought was really nice). And she said I was the third person who had called her and that she would be dispatching crews.”
However, after about an hour, no one had come, said Rebecca, “And then my dad was like, ‘You know, we really should call someone else because they’re not here.’ So he said, ‘Why don’t you call the fire department?’ So I did. I called 911 and asked to speak to the non-emergency fire department and they put me through and then they came within five minutes.”
Firefighters secured the area with caution tape and pylons to make visitors aware of the broken structure.
“Rotary Park” was named on the upper land of Conservation Park on Pearl Street, beside the Napanee River, because the Rotary Club Napanee constructed a community outdoor pool on the spot in 1967. In 1991, a building was erected to house change rooms and a lifeguard office.
In 2013, the Rotary Splash Pad was constructed over the footprint of the old outdoor pool, and in 2015 the washrooms were reopened and renovated to meet accessibility requirements. In 2017 the Rotary Park Revitalization project was launched to create an accessible playground to complement the existing splash pad.
Asked for comment, Chris Brown, Facilities Manager for the Department of Parks & Facility Services, Napanee, said that a prepared statement from the communications office would be forthcoming.