WHITEHALL – The Whitehall City Council seems to be ready to move forward with building a splash pad at Goodrich Park if the private funding is available to build the aquatic playground.
Council members had several questions about the project clarified by City Manager Scott Huebler during its work session Tuesday evening. The council is ready to vote on moving forward by buying the equipment for the estimated $127,150 facility if they know the funding is in place. That could be as soon as the council’s July 23 meeting which will be held at 6 p.m. in the Whitehall City Hall council room.
What the entire project may be hanging on is the confirmation of a verbal commitment for a $50,000 grant from the Arconic Foundation which would complete the funding and in-kind labor donations.
“I want this built before my grandchildren are too old to use it,” said council member Virginia DeMumbrum during the work session discussion.
Huebler told the council the splash pad already has a $10,000 grant from the White Lake Community Fund which is a part of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. A private citizen has also pledged $10,000.
Boardwell Mechanical has offered to install the splash pad, donating $50,000 in labor costs. An electrician has offered to donate services, and the city would provide an estimated $8,000 in in-kind labor by the Department of Public Works for water and sewer connections.
A discounted cost of concrete for the splash pad is being offered by Consumers Concrete.
Mayor Debi Hillebrand, in introducing discussion on the splash pad, said “I’m all for it, but I still feel like transparency and clarity is important.”
Council member Steve Salter, who has championed the project and spent much personal time in gathering information on the design and funding, serving on a splash pad committee, said much of the information on the project has been available to the council.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ellie Dennis said she was not aware of the amount of information available from what material she has seen.
But, after hearing answers to council questions, she said, “I’m absolutely in favor of this. It’s a quality of life issue.”
Council member Norm Kittleson said he would be in favor of building the splash pad if the funding is completed.
And, council member Dick Connell voiced his support of the splash pad, but expressed concern that it would be maintained. “I want to make sure it’s clean.”
The only council member who expressed opposition to the splash pad was Scott Brown.
“I don’t support the splash pad,” he said. “I’m not in favor of spending taxpayer dollars on water.”
Brown was reacting to the estimated $7,000 to $10,000 annual cost of water and sewer for the splash pad.
The council seemed to be satisfied with the answer to the question of why there is just one proposal for the splash pad equipment.
Huebler said VORTEX, which provided the quote for equipment, is a government cooperative purchasing member which offers cost savings, and the equipment is unique so there aren’t many vendors available. Another vendor was contacted, but Huebler said estimated costs were much higher.
The process, he added, does not violate the city’s purchasing process.
The VORTEX proposal calls for a splash pad 40-feet by 45-feet. It would have 24 water jets. Half of the splash would have jets appropriate for small children and the other half would have jets for older children.
Several citizens attended the work session and expressed support of the splash pad.
“I’m all for the splash pad,” said Ray Gundy. “I didn’t know anything about it.”