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Milton splash park could be up and running by July

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Neil Johnson
February 27, 2013

— As city crews moved heavy snow off roads and police rushed to scores of vehicle slide-offs Tuesday evening, the Milton City Council fast-forwarded its thinking to summer, swimsuits and fun in the sun.

The council unanimously agreed Tuesday to move ahead with its long-awaited plan to build a splash park.

The city shelved the project last year after cost estimates came in May about $50,000 to $75,000 higher than anticipated. The city has worked with Madison engineer SAA Design Group, the designer for the project, to shave costs.

Now, City Administrator Jerry Schuetz told the council Tuesday, the project could move forward at an estimated cost of $320,000.

According to Schuetz, if the council awards the project by early April, the splash park could be finished by July.

The splash park is planned in the southwest corner of South Goodrich Park in the city’s eastside downtown, and will incorporate an existing gazebo and another building for restrooms, concessions and a public area.

The project has been in planning for nearly two years, and for the last year, an ad hoc city committee has tried to raise money to offset costs of the splash park, which early estimates indicated could cost about $375,000.

It would by partially paid for with tax increment financing, officials said.

The committee has raised more than $50,000 for the splash park, but only got about halfway to a goal the city had established as a trigger for the council to go forward with the project.

Fundraising began stalling last year amid a languishing economic recovery, although many local businesses and stakeholders donated toward the park, officials said.

Mayor Tom Chesmore said $50,000 in fundraising is enough to move forward.

“The economic situation being what it is, you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. It was never our intention to squeeze our businesses. With the bypass, we made this project as a commitment to them,” Chesmore told The Gazette Tuesday.

The clock is ticking on the Highway 26 bypass project, which is slated for completion in 2014.

The bypass will reroute Highway 26 a mile east around Milton and will funnel thousands of vehicles a day around Milton.

City officials are under growing pressure to reach critical mass on a slew of projects that officials have developed in the last two years in hopes to redefine commerce and recreation in the city.

The splash park is one of the lynchpins in the city’s plan to transform the eastside business district and Goodrich Park into a pedestrian and family-friendly city center.

The city had briefly reviewed putting the splash park at Crossridge Park at the future site of the Parker YMCA, but Chesmore said he wasn’t big on that idea.

“Ah, I didn’t like that,” Chesmore said, noting businesses were “encouraged” by a splash park plan near downtown.

Earlier plans were for the splash park to have a water recycling and cleaning system that would cycle water through a closed loop.

Schuetz said the city is now angling toward a splash park design that would continuously draw water from the city water utility, and then chlorinate the wastewater and funnel it to a detention pond east of downtown.

The plan will save $80,000 to $100,000 in construction costs, although Schuetz said it would require additional infrastructure work to link the splash park to a retention pond off Janesville Street.

The city also might have to dig a shallow ancillary pond for overflow during times of heavy rain, he said.



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