Sandbox Water Feature to Get the Ax

It was designed to help children build sandcastles. But mostly, it created a mess -- and maintenance headaches.

The days are numbered for this water pump at Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano. Photo courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano.
The days are numbered for this water pump at Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano. Photo courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano.

A water pump at a public sandbox so children could build sandcastles didn’t exactly pan out the way it was supposed to, so a San Juan Capistrano city commission has ordered it removed.

When Los Rios Park first opened in 2009, it featured a pump that spilled water right into the sandbox, said David Hubler, public works manager.

It’s been “somewhat of a maintenance headache to staff” ever since, he said.

Just as the park was opening, Southern California found itself in drought conditions, with severe warnings to cut back water use, said Community Services Manager Cynthia Alexander. So initially, the water wasn’t turned on.

Some enterprising adults, however, figured out how to get it to work, and over its less-than-five-year lifespan, the pump has needed various repairs and now replacement, which would cost $2,500, Alexander said.

So the San Juan Capistrano Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Commission considered last month what to do with the water feature.

It’s getting the ax.

“In all my hours in sandboxes they didn’t have water. They work just great without water,” said Commissioner Gerry Muir.

“It was probably an interpretation by an architect who thought he was adding something to the program … It’s not useless, but I don’t think it’s feasible,” said Commissioner Ronald Denman.

Commissioner Steve Behmerwohld said he liked the pump but agreed it wasn’t necessary.

“The kids had a blast with that thing.  That being said, if the whole thing was taken out, I don’t think it would detract from the sandbox,” he said, acknowledging one kid’s blast is a city maintenance worker’s mess. 

Aaron Pluff January 02, 2014 at 01:39 PM
don't kids usually make sandcastles at the beach?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) January 02, 2014 at 02:33 PM
That thought crossed my mind, too! But sadly, as some charities around here will tell you, there are some in the neighborhood that don't get to go the beach ever, even though they live so closely.
Whiskey Bent January 02, 2014 at 04:33 PM
It sure is sad we live so far away from free and accessible beaches.
rachel o January 02, 2014 at 07:36 PM
I always thought it was just a cat box and not a sand box.
rachel o January 02, 2014 at 07:42 PM
I agree, that is why my kinds did not play in there. Too many " tootsie rolls".
Steve Behmerwohld January 03, 2014 at 01:32 AM
Publius & Rachel, I'm sure your children or grandchildren don't have a problem getting to the beach. A lot of local kids aren't that fortunate. I volunteer at the Dana Point tidepools and it's amazing how many kids from San Juan visit there who have never been to the beach. Rachel o, you are repulsive.
rachel o January 03, 2014 at 07:03 AM
"A lot of local kids aren't that fortunate". Oh pleeeeze. Really. Isn't San Juan Capistrano one of the wealthier areas of Or ange County? You are saying "a lot" of kids don't make it the two miles to the beach despite a walking and bicycle trail that leads to the beach right next to Los Rios Park ? Oh pleeeeze. You are on the commission that approved this silly thing ? How much in tax dollars did you spend for the design, plumbing and installation of this stupid idea in what amounted to a cat box. Steve Behmerwohld your an idiot who wasted thousands of tax dollars.
Steve Behmerwohld January 03, 2014 at 10:14 AM
I love Los Rios Park, but it was built years before I was on the Commission. Don't let the facts get in the way of your vitriol.
GreenInOC January 03, 2014 at 10:58 AM
@rachel o, aside from the issue of tax dollars you can't sincerely believe that because there are rich people in San Juan that means that everyone has the same personal financial resources?! Not everyone has a car or a second car available to them when one is being used perhaps by a 2nd parent to work. Not every family has it in their budget to buy bathing suits when choices need to be made between shoes and food. Not every family can afford swimming lessons so they may not feel comfortable taking their children to a beach. Not every family behaves like yours. That doesn't make their struggles obsolete or ridiculous, just different.
Sam Avacado January 03, 2014 at 10:59 AM
Hi, Sam Avacado here, the Mayor of Sam Juan. Beve Semerwold little buddy, it appears you have been very unkind to this little lady. You called her repulsive. Any true man with Rancho Mission Viejo huevos (Mony Toiso the head Gaucho is my wealthiest supporter) would know that you treat the ladies with respect. You did call this fine young lady repulsive first. You need to fess up Seve, be a man and apologize to this young lady. Being a man and a lady is part of the Avacado lifestyle here in Sam Juan that you enjoy because if me, me, me. Go on, Seve Bemerwold, be all the man you can be and apologize to this fine young lady.
rachel o January 03, 2014 at 11:09 AM
As I said previously, the walking and bicycle trail right next to Los Rios Park runs all the way to the beach free of charge. A car is not necessary to get to the beach to make sand castles.
KS Schumaker January 03, 2014 at 11:28 AM
I am glad it is going away for the main reason that I saw more kids playing on it than with it and was always afraid somebody was going to fall off and break open their skull. Now if we could just do something about the wood chips that will actually penetrate though the bottoms of Crocs and poke you in the foot or get into your socks and be irritating, I would take my niece and nephew there more.....
Angus Kevin Mckay January 03, 2014 at 02:49 PM
The thing is dangerous and a waste , as for the wood chips, do the kids a favor and don't get them crocs
Steve Behmerwohld January 03, 2014 at 03:11 PM
Clint, I do treat ladies with respect.
KS Schumaker January 03, 2014 at 04:14 PM
Angus, kids were not wearing the Crocs, I was! Ended up with a sliver in my foot. Wear different shoes when I go now, but still get debris in my socks. I like the rubber surfaces I have seen at parks in Tustin and Irvine much better, but I am sure they too have their downsides.
Whiskey Bent January 04, 2014 at 09:25 PM
Beamerwald, you think everyone who disagrees with you is Worthington. Is that why you stalk and photograph him? Also just because parents won't take their kids to the beach doesn't mean we need to bring the beach to them.
Steve Behmerwohld January 05, 2014 at 11:41 AM
Sometimes I think the people who disagree with me are Derek Reeves. Are you now saying that we should take out the sandbox too?
Apple sauce is gross January 05, 2014 at 12:39 PM
This is coming from a guy who is on a commission that cannot even design a sandbox? Are you smarter than a kindergartner? Nope.
Steve Behmerwohld January 05, 2014 at 02:07 PM
This coming from a guy named "Apple sauce is gross"?
Apple sauce is gross January 05, 2014 at 02:41 PM
Yes, commissioner of the kindergarten sand box. What an idiot you are.
Whiskey Bent January 05, 2014 at 06:08 PM
Beemerwood, if you see people chasing you with a butterfly net, please just surrender. You really have lost it.


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