FORT LARAMIE – When Laura Curtsinger joined Fort Laramie Town Council two years ago, it was her mission to renovate the park. Specifically, she noticed a partially torn down fence and cracked cement with weeds going through it, once a tennis court before just being an “eyesore.”
After receiving donations, both monetary and in labor, from various companies and community members, the town was able to begin construction of a splash pad, a recreation area for water play.
Why a splash pad? Curstinger said the town of Fort Laramie, whose population was just 230 as of the 2010 census, cannot afford upkeep of a pool like the surrounding communities of Torrington, Lingle and Guernsey. What none of these towns have, however, is a splash pad. The closest one is located at the Riverside Zoo in Scottsbluff, Neb., where visitors pay to use it.
“We’re always trying to draw people to our little tiny town, which isn’t always easy to do,” Curtsinger said. “So I thought we should create something for our parks that’s one of a kind and would be free for all children and open for longer periods of time than say the swimming pool, that would not just benefit our community but also communities around us.”
After $67,421 in donations and discounted materials from local sod and concrete providers, help from community volunteers and a narrowly avoided stampede of cows through exposed plumbing prior to the concrete pour, the splash pad is almost ready for the community.
“I was like, ‘only in Fort Laramie,’” Curtsinger said. “I have plaques on the splash pad embedded in the cement, and it says thank you to all who made it possible. It mentions the people that donated, but it also says thank you to the cowboys that got the cattle under control. If they would’ve all decided to cross, it would’ve been totally demolished, so fortunately they were on horseback and able to get in there and cut them off.”
The pad’s above ground features like dump buckets and sprinklers were recently installed and “plumbing kinks” are almost fixed, Curtsinger said. The splash pad will feature a water recirculation system, meaning water will go back into drains and will be filtered for more than one-time use. Once the system is inspected by the sanitation department, the splash pad will be able to open to the public.
Curtsinger hopes the attraction can open soon, because it is one of few safe activities for children this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You could pretty easily social distance on [the splash pad],” Curtsinger said. “It’s not fenced in, not walled in, it’s a wide open park.”
Curtsinger said the splash pad will likely remain open into September once it’s up and running.