SPRINGFIELD TWP. When the popular Springfield Township swim park, Kim Tam, closed last year, it saddened many families that grew up spending their summers at the lake.
Now, there is new life for the park that was built in the 1950s by Charles "Bill" Patton and named after his daughters, Kimberly and Tamara.
Patton passed away in December 2016 and his family was unsure as to what to do with the park. It was recently purchased by Jeremy Caudill, an Akron wrestling promoter who grew up in the area, who plans to make it a destination for families to enjoy year-round. He is keeping the name Kim Tam but is naming the lake, Melanie, after his wife who also grew up in Springfield Township.
Some of the first plans for the park include a digital sign that will keep the public updated on events going on at the park and to asphalt the parking lot.
The cleanup has started with painting, trimming trees and draining the lake to give it a fresh start for the season. The lake is spring fed and the property sits along the Tuscarawas River. He said a lot of the work is cosmetic and can be done quickly to get the summer season started.
Caudill held a special community open house for the public May 12 and 13. The event included a barbeque lunch, time to walk around the park and explore, cornhole and a demonstration of Ohio Championship wrestling.
Caudill spoke to those in attendance about his plans for the park and what Kim Tam meant to him growing up in the area.
"Welcome to the legendary Kim Tam park and the new Lake Melanie," he said.
Caudill continued speaking about his plans to make the park a destination for families. One of his current plans is to "have the best ice cream parlor in town," he said. It will be in the first building where it can be open to the public without going into the swim area. They are looking at some different franchises and options. He plans to build lockers for passholders to store their swim gear, so they don’t have to carry it back and forth from home.
Full court basketball is in the plans along with bleachers on both sides of the court. The courts would be open to the public without coming into the park, providing everyone with a place to shoot some hoops. Three "extremely nice volleyball courts" will be built and there are plans to start up volleyball leagues. The pavilions will have new grills, lights and more updates.
"We want to make those pavilions nice for any kind of event you would want to have," said Caudill.
The lake will be one of a few swim areas to have a high dive in Ohio. He has purchased a waterslide, rings and running log from East Wood Park. He plans to do a total kids park with water guns, splash bucket and other water park equipment. For adults, he plans to occasionally set up airbags that offers a chance to jump on the bag and send someone else through the air.
Within the next year or so, Caudill plans to bring in primitive camping and eventually cabins and RV setups.
"We are going to bring in an outdoor theater where we can be in Lake Melanie and watch a movie," he said.
Caudill said he is going to try to keep the place open year-round, having a Halloween hayride, Christmas sleigh ride and lights and where the tennis courts are they plan to create an event space for family friendly events, that may include cars shows, crafts shows and an area for ice skating.
He said those are some of his visions, but they have just began sprucing up the park.
"It does need a lot of work and I am ready for the challenge," Caudill said. "If it is too easy, your goals aren’t high enough. We are going to take this on and we are going to make this one of the premier water parks in Ohio."
The families and kids of all ages enjoyed the wrestling, including hometown favorite and headliner, Grant Andrews from Uniontown.
Season passes are available at the park, 2881 Canton Road.