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Making a Bigger Splash: Cherokee Nation & City Build $200,000 Water Park

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The City of Tahlequah, Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation are partnering on a 25-year lease for the town's first water playground, scheduled to open in 2014. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker is anticipated to sign the lease agreement that will allow city officials to build the "splash pad," equipped with jet tunnels, water sprayers and rock slides on nearly an acre of tribal-owned land downtown, states a Cherokee Nation press release.

The city will lease the space for the splash pad for $1 month.

"Establishing good governmental partnerships that improve the lives of Cherokees and non-Cherokees alike is something I believe in and we will continue to develop these kinds of infrastructure improvements for our citizens," Chief Baker said in the statement.

More than $800,000 in city tax collections was used to help fund the nearly $200,000 splash pad project, in addition to the community's winter ice rink and more, according to the Tahlequah Daily Press. The water playground is part of more than $150 million in new infrastructure for Tahlequah in recent years. Northeastern State University is building a new multipurpose event center, and the Cherokee Nation, a new $50 million hospital. The city's sports complex and new swimming pool are also a few of the planned investments.

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"We've worked hard to make the city of Tahlequah more family friendly with new parks, an outdoor skating rink and now a splash pad, because we know having a good quality of life is vital to our community's growth," Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols said. "We certainly counld not have done this project if not for the important partnership with Chief Baker and the Cherokee Nation."

Next year, the splash pad will be located adjacent to Norris Park on Water Street. It will offer picnic tables, water buckets, a water wheel and a foam landing pad.