Three years after Sault Ste. Marie's first splash pad opened at Bellevue Park, city council has approved our first water-play facility for the west end.
City councillors agreed Monday to use $625,000 in available funding from the Canada Canadian Build Funds to advance the project, to be built in Manzo Park at 682 McKenzie Ave.
They also agreed to add another $115,000 to the city's 2023 budget for operating costs, including utilities and staffing.
Together with the play fountain under construction as part of the downtown plaza, the new addition will give the city three interactive water play features.
The west end project will be about three-quarters the size of the Bellevue Park splash pad.
"The demographics of the area are well served with a high population of 17 per cent of the residents under 14," said Brent Lamming, the city's director of community services, in a report to Mayor Christian Provenzano and councillors.
"The site has ample power and water service coming into the Manzo pool building and options to tie existing infrastructure for drainage," Lamming said.
The following are Lamming's reasons for saying Manzo Park is the best location:
- existing infrastructure in terms of washrooms, ties into existing utilities and complementary amenities
- best location in terms of pricing, utilizing existing infrastructure
- takes advantage of existing summer staffing at the facility in terms of lifeguards and parks staff
- aligns well with existing programming such as Every Breakfast Counts
- serves target demographics and has the highest nearby population
- lower ongoing maintenance requirements
- ample space for parking expansion
- located on an existing bus route providing access for all
The city's plan now is to issue a request for professional services this week, with a due date of Aug. 3
Construction drawings are to be completed in August or September 2022, allowing a more accurate estimate of building cost.
"If estimates indicate that the project will be over the approved budget, then the tender would be deferred and the additional capital requirements would come with the 2023 budget," Lamming said.
Tenders would then be in January 2023, with construction and installation to take place in the spring of next year.
Mayor Provenzano said it's about time for a west end splash pad, but it could have been bigger.
"We're a bit behind in this respect," the mayor said. "It shouldn't have taken us this long. I think there will be some regret we made it the size we did."
Ward 1 Coun. Paul Christian expressed concern that the project's cost might exceed the proposed $625,000, resulting in temptation to reduce it further.
"Should it come back more than it's outlined, I will not be supportive of reducing it further in terms of its scope."
Christian said the west end community deserves a splash pad comparable to the one in the east end.