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Milton splash park plans setting sail

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
March 7, 2012
— The city of Milton is moving forward with plans to build a splash park in Goodrich Park even though a community fundraising campaign tied to the project has not reached its goal.

The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to order Madison firm SAA Design to draw up construction documents for the 4,000-square-foot splash park and to have the city send the project out for construction bids this spring.


The council pushed the project forward Tuesday after City Administrator Jerry Schuetz suggested a new plan that would scale back or cut out as much as $48,000 in planned amenities at the splash park.


That would cut construction costs for the project from $371,000 to around $323,000 at a time when fundraisers for the proposed splash park have brought in $41,000 in private donations—far below a $100,000 community fundraising contingency the city council decided last year needed to be met before the project could move into design and construction phases.


Tuesday's decision puts work on the project on track to start in May, although the council still must approve construction bids this spring to make the splash park a reality. The splash park could be open to the public by early July, Schuetz said.


Meanwhile, a community fundraiser for the project led by the ad-hoc Goodrich Square steering committee will continue, with the city establishing a new fundraising goal of $50,000.


The group has been raising money for the project since fall and has raised between $8,000 and $10,000 each month, Schuetz said.


The city could cut back on some ancillary amenities at the splash park without altering the size and overall design of the park, which includes three splash pad areas with fountains and structures that splash water, and a pump system that recycles water, Schuetz told the council Tuesday.


Earlier plans from SAA Design show $6,000 in trash receptacles and $12,000 in park benches. Schuetz said the city could have architects remove those items from immediate plans and add them in later as funding allows.


The city plans to use between $225,000 and $300,000 in tax increment financing to pay for the project, depending on how much money the fundraising campaign brings in and the total cost of the project, Schuetz said this week.


The fundraising shortfall won't lead to an increase in TIF spending for the project, he said.


The splash park is planned in the southwest corner of South Goodrich Park. The project is part of a larger redevelopment plan by the city to improve Goodrich Park and its east side business district.


The redevelopment involves upgrades to Parkview Drive and other improvements in Goodrich Park. It's being done largely as a response to the pending Highway 26 bypass, which will be completed in 2013 and divert 16,000 vehicles a day away from the city's east side downtown.


Harmony Township resident Dave Holterman, a member of the Goodrich Square committee and Chairman of the Milton Area Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, spoke to the council Tuesday while holding his young child on his hip.


He told council members that he believes the splash park will continue to draw people into the city's downtown and lead people with young families to put down roots in Milton.


"We'd all like to take steps to keep the city viable and on the radar," Holterman said. "I think it (the splash park) is going to be a great amenity."



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