WHITEHALL – Whitehall City Council member Steve Salter thinks the council has been a barrier to the city moving forward in building a ‘splash pad’ play area in Goodrich Park, and he wants the $127,150 project to proceed.

Salter was further frustrated June 25 when a resolution to approve a design for the splash pad and purchase the necessary materials upon receipt of a grant from Arconic was removed from the agenda, and further discussion was scheduled for the monthly public work session this coming Tuesday (July 9). The work session will begin at 5 p.m. in the Whitehall City Hall Garden Room, which will be followed at 6 p.m. by the council meeting down the hall.

Salter and former council member Jeff Holmstrom promoted the location of a splash pad for children back in 2015. A splash pad provides a safe aquatic playarea with water sprays on a hard surface. The project was a part of the draft city budget for the 2018-2019 budget, but was removed in hopes private fundraising could fund the splash pad, rather than use local tax dollars which have been stretched thin.

Since then, a Splash Pad Fundraising Committee was formed, but has struggled to have enough members to meet regularly.

However, the project has received a pledge of $10,000 from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, and a potential $50,000 grant from Arconic, the aerospace manufacturer which has several plants in Whitehall. Another individual has offered to donate $10,000. Not only that, a local business has agreed to donate labor for the splash pad.

“To me this is just one more crown in the jewel,” Salter commented on the splash pad’s ability to provide a fun and safe summer activity for local children and visitors to the community.

Salter said the splash pad also fits in the city’s recreational master plan which calls for additional recreational amenities.

He said he was blind sided by the latest delay, and came to the June 25 council meeting ready to discuss progress on getting funding and donated services.

The mayor said the resolution was taken off the agenda because she and other council members had questions they wanted to discuss.

Hillebrand said City Manager Scott Huebler included the proposal for a splash pad, including design, costs in the agenda for the June 25 meeting.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen that,” she said. After seeing it, Hillebrand said she and some other council members had questions and wants public support before moving forward.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she commented on the splash pad. “But it’s a wise thing to be transparent to the public.”

The mayor said there isn’t a hurry since construction probably wouldn’t occur this year. And, an Aug. 1 deadline for grants could probably be negotiated if progress is shown.

Some the questions which will be discussed Tuesday will be a clarification on the budget, why is there in-kind money donation included in the budget when the council said there would be no city money used for construction, who approved the design and when, will donated labor offer warranties, why was only one vender considered, is staff comfortable moving forward, should there be a bid process and how much will it cost to operate?

Salter said the proposal from Vortex, a Texas-based company, was submitted to the city nearly a year ago. The proposal includes drawings of the site, listing of the equipment and a budget.

And, he said some of the other questions have been answered by city staff. Vortex is the only vender because there is a limited number of manufactures in the unique market. Staff has requested a proposal from Raindeck matching the size and number of jets quoted by Vortex and the base quote was for $207,349.

Salter said the $8,000 city contribution would be for providing the water and sewer connections for the splash pad, and not for any construction.

The city would also provide the estimated annual water and sewer costs of between $7,110 and $9,720.

Vortex’s proposal called for $104,200 for parts, labor and shipping. It noted additional costs, including labor.

The city then developed a $127,150 budget based on that.

Salter said the $70,000 in donations will cover the purchase of the equipment, and Boardwell Mechanical of Montague has offered to provide labor estimated at $50,000. Electrical work will be donated by Single Phase Electric.

Concrete costs are estimated to cost a discounted $8,650, and there is a 5% contingencies ($6,300) included.

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.

Salter has taken on the splash pad project personally, and has visited splash pads and talked to city officials where they are located. He said Grand Haven, Cadillac and Hastings have splash pads, Grand Rapids has 14 splash pads and Ludington is in the process of raising funds for one.

Salter has also sought donated services, and recently asked the White Lake Lions Club for a donation.