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Splash park receives green light from council

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Taber Times

The potential development of a spray park to be located in Confederation Park recently took a step forward, with town council voting to support a project which is planned to be completed by mid-summer 2014.

On Dec. 16, council voted unanimously to support the project — known as the Taber Splash Pad — contingent on input from a member of the town’s public works department as well as CAO Greg Birch, working together with the splash pad committee.

“There’s a large amount of people who think it’s a good idea,” said Bruce Warkentin on Dec. 16, representing the Taber Splash Pad Committee. “As a council, maybe it’s something you might want to consider. I think it also provides economic benefit for our town, in terms of bringing people to town.”

The splash pad will be designed to serve a wide range of children with a variety of spray features and apparatuses, and will be wheelchair accessible and allow usage by children with physical disabilities.

“When I was presented with an opportunity to be involved with this project, I thought it was relatively exciting, because it’s something that is not a huge project, it’s fairly small in comparison to other types of entertainment council is considering, such as multi-use facilities,” said Warkentin.

The proposal includes park benches, picnic tables and washrooms to allow citizens to enjoy the splash pad and Confederation Park. A location in the park was chosen to allow for easy access to the downtown. The location favoured by the splash pad committee is the open park area directly south of Parkside Manor, and adjacent to the skatepark.

“We’re hoping to build it this summer, and have it ready for the majority of the summer. That’s contingent on a few factors, but that’s the plan. We looked at a few areas, part of the reason we chose right by the skate park is it’s a central location, it creates a hub of activity for our town, it’s easy to find, there’s ample parking around it, and there’s the ability to share a washroom facility between the skate park and the splash pad. In our minds, that’s a space that can be used for that purpose, it’s not really being used for any other purpose.”

The total projected cost of the project is $350,000 ( which includes $50,000 for construction of a washroom facility). Projected funding for the project includes an estimated $100,000 in cash donations, $130,000 in donations in kind, and another $120,000 from grants.

“We’ve done some preliminary work on the budget for this project, and we estimate it will be about $350,000,” said Warkentin. “With a few phone calls, and through a few interested parties, we’ve been able to get in-kind donations of about $100,000 alread.”

, keeping in mind we didn’t have that approval to proceed at all, so we haven’t been hitting the pavement too hard yet.”

Warkentin noted the splash pad committee would be open to any input on the project parametres, as it would ultimately be the caretaker for a finished facility.

“We have no problems with gaining input from administration or public works, because at the end, we want to turn it over to the town to operate, so of course it makes sense for them to be involved in the process, so they know what to do once we turn it over. There’s no hesitation on our part to have someone involved with us.”

Ongoing operational cost should be minimal, according to Warkentin.

“At this point, it’s an estimate. I wouldn’t wager a guess at this point, but it’s not going to be onerous on the town’s part, because it’s relatively maintenance free.”

Secured donations in kind include $19,425 in concrete from Riverbend Rock Products, $15,000 in labour and equipment to prep the location from Rod’s Construction Service, $2,000 in rebar from the Taber Home and Farm Centre, a 25 square metre asphalt patch from McNally Contractors, and $30,000 for water and sewer tie-ins and excavating and gravel supply from Ground Tech.

“It’s certainly an interesting idea,” said Rob Cressman, director of community services. “The group has obviously invested a lot of their energy and time into this presentation this evening, and the meetings that they’ve had, and the package that they’ve presented to both the recreation board and to council.”

The proposed splash pad is designed for efficient water flow through for optimized water conservation. Research and discussion with the Town of Coaldale provided by the committee indicates a non-recyclable water system is desirable, as it is estimated 1.5 hours of labour per day are required to operate a splash pad equipped with a water treatment system.

The approximate monthly cost for this service is an estimated $2,250. Based on cost, Coaldale chose a flow through system. Nobleford, Coaldale, and the Crowsnest Pass use flow through systems for their splash pads.

“I support this project 100 per cent, but committee in the past has ever approached council or the rec board and brought a proposal forward,” said Coun. Randy Sparks. “As this committee has been struck and a proposal brought forward, now we’re well aware that a splash park is needed and wanted within the town. I want to hand it to this committee to put the time and effort in to come forward and let council know that there is a need and a want and a desire to have spray park of some kind within our town.”

Some advantages to re-circulated water spray parks include less water usage over summer months, larger displays of water, and warmer water, however these parks require higher initial capital costs, and are treated like a public pool for health purposes, therefore impacting the operator with higher costs and more stringent responsibilities.

“By the same token — this is my personal opinion — I wish there was a recycle/re-use component to this project, not just a straight flow-through, of the water that is being used in this project through the storm system to the river,” said Coun. Sparks. “I understand the reason why, because it probably adds a lot of cost to this project, but I’d like to see that.”

A splash pad has a zero depth water level and does not require a certified lifeguard, and follows the same supervision guidelines as a playground. At the recommended location, the splash pad would have street visibility, but it is suggested security cameras would be beneficial for the skate park, splash pad and washrooms to deter any possible vandalism.

Currently, $100,000 has been budgeted for permanent washroom facilities at various locations in the community in the 2015 capital budget.

Designed to be removable, the splash pad equipment can be stored indoors during the winter, intended to improve equipment lifespan and reduce winter vandalism.

A motion made by Coun. Joe Strojwas for town council to support the project but with input from the town limited to public works staff, effectively cutting out administration, drew fire from Coun. Sparks prior to a vote.

“In this motion, we’re not including administration involved in this at all. If that’s the intent of Councillor Strojwas, that’s fine, but I can’t support the motion unless administration is involved, because this committee needs to be consulting with administration on this project, not just public works.”

Coun. Strojwas suggested cutting out administration from the consultation process would “avert a lot of red tape”.

“I think this project needs to move on quickly, because too many people are leaving town. Being that there is a washroom facility and drainage that needs to be done on this, to avert a lot of red tape I think probably there’s people in the public works department that know where all this should go, and where all the connections should be made. I think this committee has got their act together, there’s some very prominent people on that committee, and any time that the Town of Taber can get a turnkey operation such as this here, I think we need to stand behind them, approve this here, and get this rolling.”

Cutting out administration wouldn’t necessarily speed up the project, according to Coun. Sparks.

“In no way am I saying I’m not supporting this project, I’m supporting it 100 per cent. By having administration involved, it is not going to delay this project one bit. We need administration to be well aware of what is happening with this project.”

Apparently unswerved by this argument, Coun. Strojwas noted the cost of operating the facility would not be high, according to representations made by the splash pad committee.

“It was outlined in the package earlier, that the amount of time and effort to maintain this is very minimal, with the cost not being a huge factor. I can’t see that this could become burdensome on the town. A concrete pad can’t be that onerous on the town. The cost of it can be addressed later in the budget deliberations. But we need to put our support behind it and get these people working on this.”

Coun. Sparks continued to press for the inclusion of administration in any consultations between the town and the committee.

“We must remember that we’re using treated water in this system, and we’re not at this time aware of how much water is going to be used. It may be minimal, but there are unknowns at this time. That’s again why I’d like to have administration involved.”

Finally yielding to pressure from other councillors, Coun. Strojwas modified his motion to allow for a representative of administration to be involved with the consultation process.

The motion was passed unanimously by council. Previous to town council’s endorsement, the Taber Recreation Board recommended supporting the proposal in principal at their Dec. 5 meeting.

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