Those looking to cool off thanks to a new splash pad in Elmira will have to hope the summer weather continues for another month or so, as the Bolender Park project continues to face delays.
The decidedly un-summery wet weather in the spring, culminating in a flood last month, bears much of the blame for pushing back the project, which Woolwich Township had hoped to see completed by now. Instead, the new target is late August or early September.
Ann McArthur, Woolwich’s director of recreation and facilities, says the intermittent raining and the flooding put construction on hold while contractors wait for the weather to improve.
“The contract requires a minimum of two consecutive [dry] days in order that they can pour the concrete deck and then that concrete requires 30 days to cure before the final components, the features of the splash park, and then the splash pad is commissioned,” she explained.
The wet weather, however, has put a damper on those plans.
“Initially it was the flooding, so they had to wait until that was dried up,” said McArthur. “It’s just a concrete pad that now needs to be poured in and that’s where the rain on-and-off has played havoc with their schedule. But they do need those two full days – consecutive days – to pour that concrete.”
Acknowledging the weather issues, Ruby Weber of the Woolwich Recreation Facilities Foundation (WRFF) maintains some of the setbacks were entirely avoidable.
“The township delayed the project by nine months because it took them that long to approve a site plan. The splash pad was supposed to be built last summer,” said Weber. “And, of course, we didn’t have the best of weather this spring, but it was well into May before we finally got approvals and, by then, the rain started.”
More than just an inconvenience, Weber says that the delays in construction are straining funding for the project itself, which the WRFF is entirely responsible for. She says donors expected the project to be completed last year.
“Well we’ve already passed a number of deadlines. The biggest problem is meeting [Ontario] Trillium Foundation’s requirement, and I’m still hoping we can get it done.”
To bring the splash pad to fruition, the WRFF partnered with the township other local organization on different parts of the project. The WRFF agreed to take on raising all of the funds needed to build the project, collecting $500,000 to do so. The construction contract was awarded to ABC Recreation.
Once completed, the splash pad will be turned over to the township, which will be responsible for the operating costs, estimated at $30,000 per year.
The WRFF was able to obtain a $150,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, but the money came with strings attached, said Weber.
“When they give you money, they require you to use it and get the project done within a year, and we got that money last year. The project was supposed to be done last summer, so we were able to get an extension. We may have to get some more extensions before it’s done.”
While the bulk of the capital costs have been raised through the foundation, other groups have been pitching in. That includes Kate’s Kause, the group behind the accessible playground in Elmira’s Gibson Park.
“Kate’s Kause, with other sponsors in the area – other local businesses – are collecting money to put in a ‘special element’ into the new playground feature,” said Kelly Meissner of Kate’s Kause, noting the efforts to boost inclusion will run about $20,000.
The township has also carried upgrades to the 20-year-old playground at Bolender Park, as well, said McArthur.
“There’s a new playground going in. There’s a splash pad going in. And there are renovations to the washrooms in Bolender, so once that’s all in we hope to have a grand re-opening of that park. There’ll be lots of great new amenities going in there and we’d like to celebrate with the community,” she said.