Parents who bring their kids to Rotary's All Person's Playground will soon want to pack their little ones' bathing suits.
A $100,000 water feature is scheduled to make its debut this summer at the playground, located in Clayton Park at 800 S. Parsons Ave. When the first tyke starts splashing around the park, it will be the culmination of efforts that were indirectly inspired by, of all things, a fire.
"The park was vandalized about five years ago, and there was a fire," said John Sullivan, past president of the Brandon 86 Rotary Club. "People in the community were worried the park wouldn't re-open."
Sullivan said the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department helped repair the damage, and extra community donations were earmarked for the water feature.
Sullivan and other key Brandon 86 Rotary Club members had conceived the idea for the playground in 1998.
With help from the community and various state and county agencies, like the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the county parks department, they led the charge for its funding and construction.
Rotary's All Person's Playground was dedicated in 2002 as a place where children of all ages and abilities could meet and play together.
Sullivan insists the new water feature, which was inspired by a park in Largo, will be accessible to every child who wants to use it.
Thanks to a $2,500 check presented by Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview president Christopher Jones, fundraising for the water feature was completed in November. Sullivan, who is now a member of the FishHawk-Riverview rotary club, said the project's cost covers both the construction of the water feature and its maintenance for five years.
"Once it opens, we're going to continue to do things to make the water feature — and the rest of the park — innovative and exciting," Sullivan said.