Officials break ground on Bithlo splash pad



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - On Wednesday the community of Bithlo got a recreational boost in status when officials broke ground on a splash pad in Bithlo Community Park.

Local children joined Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, District 4 Commissioner Ted Edwards and others in the ceremony.

"It helps intrinsically more than you can measure, in the fact that it says, 'The folks that live out here are important. They're important to Orange County,'" said Jacobs.

When completed, the splash pad, which has a number of water sprinklers and features for children to splash in, will be similar to the one at Barnett Park. It will be one of five in the county.

Construction is already under way and the hope is that kids will be playing at the splash pad by Memorial Day.

Parents who live in Bithlo said they'll make good use of it.
"It's a great idea. There is really not a lot for little kids to do out here," said Bithlo resident Rachel Douglas.

Others who live elsewhere said they will make use of it as well. Some said they wish their neighborhood had been picked for the nearly $500,000 project.

"Some of the parks over there don't have much, they're run down and older," said Goldenrod resident Kristen Taverier.

"A little splash pad envy?" WFTV reporter Steve Barrett asked Taverier.

 "Yeah. Oh yeah," said Taverier.

Many of those at the groundbreaking ceremony said the splash pad is just what Bithlo needs. It's part of approximately $10 million the county has spent in the community, much of it on the park.

"We've invested a lot of money out here, on a lot of programs, but demographically, it's a challenged area, so we try to invest more money,  try to help the children break that generational poverty," said Edwards.

And when the heat is on, Bithlo might just draw a new crowd, as one of the cooler places in Orange County.

In the past Channel 9 Eyewitness News has done stories about the water quality in the Bithlo area. County officials said they have tested the water that will be used at the splash pad and it's more than safe for children to play in.