ENGLEWOOD — Kids are finding a new way to have fun at the Ann Dever Park Pool.

Charlotte County opened its upgraded kids area at the pool last month, and it’s been a popular spot as December temperatures hover in the 80s.

The new facility is inside the pool area at the southern end of the Ann Dever Park, at 7001 San Casa Drive, and features a shallow wading pool with a small slide, downspouts and bubblers. The pad cost $260,000 and was paid out of Charlotte County’s 2014 1-percent infrastructure sales tax.

It’s already proven to be a big hit.

“(The splash pad) has been well-received by the community and is generating record attendance at the pool,” Community Services director Tommy Scott said in a Nov. 26 email to the Sun^p.

“In the four weeks before the splash pad opened, the (Ann Dever) pool drew an average of 250 paid admissions and 132 pass-holder visits,” Scott said. “Last week, the pool had 602 paid admissions and 272 pass-holder visits.”

Since the new facility is inside the pool area, patrons must pay $3 for adults 16 and up, and $2 for children ages 2 to 15. The admission fees help to cut the costs to the county for the maintenance of the pools, Scott said. The eight-lane headed pool features diving boards, a basketball hoop, inflatable volleyball net and wheelchair access. There are restrooms, showers and changing rooms.

Charlotte County operates another splash pad at McGuire Park in Port Charlotte. It’s free to the public since it is a stand-alone amenity and is not incorporated into a public pool facility. The city of Punta Gorda maintains its interactive fountain at Laishley Park. It’s free to the public.

Venice’s Interactive Children’s Fountain is part of the city’s Centennial Park on West Venice Avenue. There’s no charge for adults or children.

“It’s open 7 days a week, with the water turned on from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.,” Venice spokesperson Lorraine Anderson said. “It has multicolored lights at night, which is pretty cool looking.”

North Port maintains its free splash pad at its Atwater Community Park on Skyway Avenue. The city is planning a splash pad as an amenity in its new aquatic center, now under construction at Morgan Family Community Center in Butler Park on Price Boulevard.

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