New report shows splash pad needs costly repairs

According to the 35 page report, issued by Wisconsin based company, Water Technologies, there are 18 things wrong with the water playground that city commissioners now need to address.

A report issued by a Wisconsin based company was released to Traverse City Commissioners last week and is bringing up a lot of issues with the Clinch Park Splash Pad that need to be fixed.

The draft report is dated for June 19, but was just released to city commissioners last Thursday.

Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes says the report should have been given to commissioners a few days after its release and isn't sure why it wasnâ??t.

â??We ultimately have to decide, should someone be accountable for the mistakes that occurred,â?? said Estes. â??And if we don't have the information, whether it's in draft form or final form, and I'm not even sure what the distinction is, how can we make these types of decisions?â??

City Manager Jered Ottenwess says the final report is expected to be out within the next two weeks, and that it will then be discussed amongst the commissioners.

â??I disagree with the characterization that the report was withheld, that city officials withheld the report,â?? said Ottenwess. â??Typically we don't release a report, we don't bring it to the city commission and make it a public record and prepare it for discussion until it's finalized.â??

According to the 35 page report, issued by Wisconsin based company, Water Technologies, there are 18 things wrong with the water playground that city commissioners now need to address.

â??It identifies a lot of problems,â?? said Estes. â??A lot of things that we have speculated on were a problem after the pad opened . Obviously there was a major defect in it. The report verifies that yes indeed there was a major defect, but there are also substantial other defects.â??

The splash pad was shut down last summer just days after its debut after a sewage leak in the system was discovered.

The issues highlighted in the report range from safety to efficiency. Hazards addressed included that the â??Arch Rain Bar Featureâ?? is climbable and that the domed surface is slippery when wet, both potential dangers for children.

The report also indicated that plant clippings and other debris clog the system and require frequent cleanings by staff, along with deteriorating concrete around the spray ring and that the â??Arched Rain Barâ?? feature does not work properly.

Potential repairs that could cost more than the splash padâ??s original price of $360 thousand.

â??I think one of the most important functions of the report was to identify if there were any public health or safety issues with the splash pad,â?? said Ottenwess. â??There arenâ??t any public health issues. There are some safety concerns that we have and certainly need to address those first before anything else.â??

Conversations about the splash pad started in 2010 during the Bayfront Project.

Controversy over whether or not the project was rushed has been debated.

Estes says that someone is to blame for all of the issues, and that they now need to figure out who that is.

â??I think there was some influences, that probably had we taken all of the normal courses of action, some of this may have adverted,â?? said Estes. â??Iâ??m not saying it would have, but again, city staff was not at fault for any of that.â??

The city is still withholding a final payment of $15 thousand to Hamilton Anderson Associates that oversaw the project.

â??Hamilton Anderson was not even the low bidder on the project,â?? said Estes. â??They were substantially more expensive. City commission went through an agonizing vote, 4-3 initially not to approve Hamilton Anderson. Ultimately one commissioner changed their mind, and it went to 5-2 and after that the rest is history. They were taken on as the designer architect and overseer of this project.â??

Ottenwess says this report is another step in the process to help the city determine whether or not Hamilton Anderson Associates is at fault for these issues.

â??Iâ??d like to note that this summer the splash pad is operating without incident,â?? said Ottenwess. â??It's been enjoyed by the public. I've taken my kids out there. And it really seems to be popular and people seem to be enjoying it.â??