Splash pad to be delayed at least a year

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Marcia Nelesen
Saturday, February 22, 2014

JANESVILLE--Janesville recreation staff will ask the Janesville City Council on Monday to reopen Riverside Park's wading pool this summer and delay construction of a splash pad in the park because of flooding and parking concerns.

Recreation Director Shelley Slapak in a memo to the council said she would not reopen the wading pool if extensive repairs are needed.

The council in the 2014 budget eliminated $28,994 to operate the wading pool but approved $10,270 to operate a splash pad. Slapak estimated then she could get a splash pad built by summer 2014.

Now, the council will be asked to approve another $17,502 to reopen the wading pool and  delay the splash pad for a year until a recommendation can be made on its placement.

“Even if there wasn't groundwater issues, the timeline is much longer than we thought,” Slapak said.

A water feature in Riverside is important to the Friends of Riverside Park, a volunteer group that has dedicated time and money to rejuvenate the regional park. The splash pad was a trade-off for the wading pool, which occasionally flooded and needs repair.

City Manager Mark Freitag, who reported to work in December after the budget was approved, said he has two concerns about the splash pad, especially after realizing how much of Riverside Park is in the flood plain.

“It just made me question why we would put it into a place where it is going to flood potentially,” Freitag said.

“If Riverside truly is the right place of to be … it probably should be somewhere on the south side of Riverside,” he said.

Friends of Riverside Park had hoped to put the splash pad on the north end of the park near the wading pool. That is where most of the park activity takes place, including baseball, shuffleboard and tennis.

The map shows one area on the north end not in the flood plain, Freitag said.

Still, that area might be surrounded by floodwater and inaccessible at the beginning of the season, Freitag said.

He said he understands the friends' group wants some sort of water amenity in the park to help draw people.

“I think we can find a happy medium for all involved, but I am concerned about putting it on the north end where it could potentially be underwater,” Freitag said.

Freitag is also concerned the city has yet to borrow up to $300,000 needed to build the splash pad.

The council would likely have borrowed the money later this year in its annual note issue.

Said Slapak: “We're really just trying to take the time to do it (build a splash pad) right. We're just really at this point where we need to work with our engineering staff and really determine location and make sure it's appropriate.”

Slapak said in her memo she would not reopen the wading pool in 2014 if extensive repairs are needed.

The budget includes $3,000 for concrete, caulking and paint repairs.

“Given past experience, there is concern that, due to the location of the wading pool, extensive repairs may be needed this year,” Slapak said.

Staff cannot evaluate the vessel's condition until after the frost leaves the ground.

The wading pool was closed in 2002 and reopened in 2009 after the friends' group dedicated time and money to the park. Then, the pool needed extensive repairs. The pumps, for example, were raised above flood level.

An update and recommendation regarding a splash pad will be brought to the council at a later date.

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