Opening of newest Hamilton splash pad delayed

A combination of weather and construction issues have delayed opening of the new splash pad at Hamilton’s Booker T. Washington Community Center, the head of the Hamilton Parks Conservancy told city council on Wednesday.

There was supposed to be an event there this weekend, “and all I can do is apologize to everyone,” said conservancy Director Steve Timmer, who has upgraded appearances of the city’s parks in recent years, and has been upgrading the handicapped-accessibility of parks each year. “I’m very disappointed we were not able to get it open on the schedule that I wanted.”

The spray-ground should be open by July 1 or July 4, he said, and, “we’ll have a great spray-ground there.”

“That’s not bad,” said Bob Harris, president of the South East Civic Association, which represents the city’s 2nd and 4th wards, after hearing Timmer’s explanation. “A good 4th of July celebration for that would be nice.”

“My position is, I would want it done correctly, and so I agree with doing it right from the beginning,” Harris said.

Timmer explained: “We were going great until about April, when it started raining constantly, and then (the contractor) did a sub-standard pour of the original slab concrete, which is 6 inches thick with half-inch (metal support bars) every eight inches, and I made (the contractor) tear it out.”

After they did that, “we had to start over, and that was right during the period where we had pretty decent weather,” he said. “But now, the splash pad, I need to make one modification in it, which I can do, but it’s really their responsibility. But it’s functional and been approved by the state and the city to open.”

“The problem is,” he added, “we were unable to get the grounds prepared as timely as we would have liked. Part of it, we had almost ready and … (a five-inch rain) wiped out the entire project, and we had to start back from ground zero, bringing in more soil, and more manpower and equipment, once it dried out.”

When the area was dry, it was re-graded, sod was ordered, and seed and straw were used in some areas a week ago. Timmer and others have been watering the seed. He wants to give the grass 2½ more weeks to become settled. Otherwise, the lawn will be ruined “for the year.”

Timmer said he also was “hell-bent” on making every project accessible to everyone, so when a plumbing company was working on site, he asked them to change out the toilets to create accessible restrooms, which was more complicated, with workers needing to jack-hammer out parts of the floor.

The city’s Public Works created an accessible walkway loop and other paths from area baseball and basketball areas, as well as three shelters and two entrances to the splash pad, he said.

“It’s probably the most accessible park we have in town right now,” Timmer said, thanking Public Works Director Rich Engle for his staff’s work.

Timmer also decided to spend an extra $10,000 to have a fence installed so young children can’t wander into traffic on Knightsbridge Drive.

“I think it’s the right call,” to do the job right the first time, “so I’m behind Steve from that standpoint,” Harris said. “I appreciate the fence, I appreciate the effort to just do it right. You don’t want a big mess later.”

Harris would love to see the center receive a new, competition-sized pool that would attract area swim teams, generate money for the BTW center, allow for a big swim program and diversify users of the center.

“Let’s keep that building up, and not let that building become a dinosaur,” Harris said.

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