Traverse City News and Events

City to Discuss Blame, Fixes for Splash Pad

Aug. 11, 2014

Traverse City commissioners will discuss an audit report from Wisconsin-based firm Water Technology Inc. (WTI) on the Clinch Park splash pad at tonight's commission meeting – a discussion that will include prioritizing repairs for design flaws identified in the report, and a potential closed session with the city attorney to discuss arbitration against project manager Hamilton Anderson Associates.

While WTI identified 18 major flaws with the William G. Milliken Waterscape in Clinch Park, City Manager Jered Ottenwess noted in a memo to commissioners this week that some of those issues have either already been addressed or are considered low priority. “Direct observation of the feature does not indicate a problem with the surface being slippery as reported,” Ottenwess wrote, adding that climbing on the Arched Rain Bar is a “minor issue,” the likelihood of lettering on the feature creating a cut and strangulation hazard is “very remote” and that curbs in place around the structure “have not caused any adverse incidents to date,” though Ottenwess advocated for modifying the curbs to eliminate blunt edges. The city manager also said an issue with pump skids being grounded has been addressed, and that none of the issues discussed in the report “affect the city's liability and property insurance.”

After evaluating WTI's report, City Engineer Tim Lodge provided a prioritized matrix of repairs to commissioners this week, with high-priority fixes including developing a drainage barrier area, replacing existing curbs, adjusting landscaping to circumvent debris clogging the system, relocating chemical tanks and adding a dry well to assist with storm water evacuation. High-priority repairs are estimated to cost between $72,900 and $133,000 and are recommended by Lodge to be “evaluated and completed in the next 12 months.” Ottenwess has recommended commissioners consider approving a new contract with WTI to confirm the list of repairs and develop an implementation plan with refined cost estimates, and to proceed with repairs independent of the dispute resolution process with Hamilton Anderson Associates, which could “take a significant amount of time,” according to Ottenwess.

If the motion receives five or more affirmative votes, commissioners will also go into closed session tonight to discuss those legal proceedings against the project management firm. City officials have previously stated they believe Hamilton Anderson Associates did not satisfactorily fulfill its responsibilities on the project and is at least partially at fault for the “serious design flaws” in the park.
In spite of its myriad challenges, Ottenwess notes the splash pad has been “operating safely and efficiently this season with proper DEQ permitting in place” and that the water feature is “being enjoyed and utilized every day” by the public.

“Despite the problems with design and construction, the feature is a valuable asset and I encourage the city commission to consider ways to move forward and work towards recovering costs from the consultant and contractors involved with the project,” Ottenwess wrote to commissioners.  

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