Babylon's newest spray park is set to open Saturday, part of the town's revitalization of Geiger Lake Memorial Park and its larger Wyandanch redevelopment.
While some residents welcome the spray park, others remain upset the town decided not to replace the pool taken out during the park refurbishment. Officials said there are five town pools for residents to use.
The spray park, which is open to town residents only and charges $5, is part of the first phase of the overhaul of Geiger, which sits in Wyandanch and Deer Park. The 14,400-square-foot spray park is the town's largest and the only one in the northern part of town.
Also completed is a 2,500-square-foot pavilion with an observation deck that will house a concession stand, bathrooms and office space.
"It's got a little something for everybody," said Deputy Supervisor Tony Martinez, who chairs the town's parks and recreation committee.
The park and pavilion cost $10 million, with the town using $1 million from a state grant, $1 million from a federal community development loan and bonding for $8 million.
The spray park, built with a "tree of life" theme, has more than two dozen features, including bridges, slides and climbing ropes. It uses about 1,600 gallons of treated and recirculated water per minute.
The park, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, was originally slated to open last year, but officials said work was thwarted by a delay in the delivery of greenheart wood, a material highly resistant to water rot that is harvested in Guyana.
The Geiger park overhaul is part of Wyandanch Rising, the town's $500 million public-private initiative to revitalize the downtown. Plans include basketball courts, a carousel, conservatory and botanical garden.
Martinez said the 23.4-acre park -- which previously had a pool, playground, baseball fields and basketball and tennis courts -- had been underused. The spray park will add value to Wyandanch, he said, and "help rebrand the area."
Some neighbors said the park had been mismanaged and many shied away due to crime, but a town spokesman said two public safety officers will be stationed there during the day, and there will be regular patrols during off-hours.
Others lamented the removal of the pool and said a spray park will not address the needs of teens in the community.
"We really needed this like I need a third leg," said Sarah Lieberman, who lives across from the park and said residents were not advised or consulted. Town officials have said they met with community groups.
Lieberman said Geiger needs a pool and said the spray park is only "eye candy." Martinez, pointing to the town's five public pools, said the spray park "is the right feature for this park."
Wyandanch resident LaFlorence Grant said she also believes the community needs a pool but would be attending the 10 a.m. opening with children from an early literacy program she coordinates.
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