Cost of splash pad raises questions

By Charles Sercombe

Compared to other communities, Hamtramck taxpayers paid twice as much per square foot for its splash pad in Pulaski Park.

Last fall, the Hamtramck Recreation Department spent $115,853 to build a 900 square foot pad. But before it can be turned on for use this June, the project has already run into trouble.

The state Department of Environmental Quality says no one submitted plans for the project before it was built, and the DEQ is seeking additional information before it can be inspected and OK’d for use.

Recreation Director Craig Daniels has refused to answer questions about the project posed by The Review and hung up during a phone interview with a Review reporter. Daniels did say, over and over, before hanging up, that the contractor who installed the pad is “handling” the matter.

As of last week, an official with the Campgrounds & Pools Unit of the DEQ said no one has yet contacted his office. The official, Paul Sisson, an environmental engineer with the unit, said he can’t say if major alterations will have to be made to the pad until he has all the information he asked for and performs an inspection.

In a survey of several communities, The Review compared costs of their pad with Hamtramck’s.

In Westland, a 6,000 square foot pad that uses reclaimed water was installed at a cost of $350,000. That breaks down to $58 per square foot.

Hamtramck’s pad cost $128 per square foot. As of press time Thursday, Daniels had not returned a call to explain the cost.

Westland was the only other community we surveyed that uses reclaimed water. While it does save on water costs, reclaimed water requires strict chemical control to make sure bacteria does not get into the system.

The other option is to use fresh water and let it drain off. The city of Sandusky, Ohio uses that system and built a 2,000 square foot pad for $122,000, which breaks down to $61 per square foot.

In the city of Wyoming, a suburb of Grand Rapids, a 5,200 square foot fresh water pad was installed for $218,000, which amounts to $41 per square foot. The cost to provide water for the summer season is $6,000, but an attendant is not required to monitor the water.

Should Hamtramck have gone with a fresh water system instead of using chlorine-treated water? Again, Daniels refuses to answer questions about the project so it’s unknown if he did a cost comparison.

In Oxford Township here in Michigan, Recreation Director Ron Davis said they opted for drilling a well and using fresh water. He said the machinery for reclaimed water would have added $100,000 to the project. Oxford installed a 6,200 square foot pad, which also included a seating area, at a cost of $290,000.

That comes to $46 per square foot.

Hamtramck’s cost may increase if the DEQ requires modifications.

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