City Council votes YES to Terry R. Abbett Splash Park upgrades

Huntington’s City Council approved, in a 6-1 vote, an ordinance that allows for improvements to the Terry R. Abbett Splash Park, located in Huntington’s Drover Park.

The hot button issue has been discussed in council since the July 14 meeting this year, and today met its final vote of approval.

The splash pad is currently shut down due to Mayor Richard Strick’s concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

To make the most of the shutdown, the mayor and Steve Yoder, superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department, proposed to council in July that renovations to the splash pad, previously slated for 2023, be moved ahead in time.

The capitalization of the COVID-19 shutdown also allows for the City of Huntington to be reimbursed for a portion of the improvements through the CARES Act.

Initially the council voted down the ordinance, but after discussion agreed to revisit the issue at a later date.

On Aug. 11, the issue was brought back to the table, and approved to be brought back for a second reading Tuesday, Aug. 25.  
The ordinance, 10-C-20, provided $420,000 out of the park fund, to be used for the splash park upgrades.

The cost breakdown of the project was presented to council during the Aug. 25 meeting in a slideshow presentation by Yoder and Adam Cuttriss, Director of Public Works and Engineering Services.

The figures provided are as follows:

Demolition of the existing pad, $7,150.

Installation of new concrete pad, $51,303.46.

Vortex splash pad equipment and installation, $337,035.

Total sum of the project is $395,488.46.

The CARES Act, however, will reimburse $116,280 to the city for the improvements, making the grand total cost to the city $279,208.46.

Over time, Strick said, the splash pad will pay for itself.

He noted that the new water treatment system that will be installed with the new pad equipment will save the city roughly $10,000 per year.

Strick said that the new splash pad’s expected lifetime is 20 years. The new water treatment system will, therefore, save the city $200,000 in cost of water during that time.

This leaves the final cost to the city for the improvements at $79,000.

The water treatment system will not only save the city the cost of water, it is also the element that makes these improvements eligible for reimbursement through the CARES Act.

Strick explained at the Aug. 11 meeting, “By adding this component, we think it makes this safer. Especially now that we know so much is transmitted by aerosol and respiratory – the ability to treat that water with UV treatment and chemical treatment, I think, enhances the safety of it.”

Strick, in discussion with council on Tuesday morning, said of the project,
“This is a cheaper course of action than replacing it in 2023. You’ll also note on the timeline that this morning’s vote basically puts us into late November before it is complete, weather permitting.”

Cuttriss confirmed, that with best-case-scenario conditions, it will be the end of November before the upgrades are complete.

Councilman Seth Marshall, At Large, commented,
“This was a public-private partnership initially … I think we have a responsibility to uphold that public trust, or we are going to have lower expectations for regaining private and public partnerships in the future. These folks depended on the city … we have a responsibility to maintain those assets that have been entrusted to us. If there is going to be ‘no’ votes this morning … I would ask that we at least extend the courtesy to the taxpayers that you can articulate an actual reason.”

Councilmen Paul Pike, Dave Funk, Charles Chapman and Joe Blomeke all made comments during discussion in praise of the council’s due diligence in coming to an end point of the discussion about the splash park, and searching for more information and transparency about the project before finally passing the ordinance.

Jerry Meehan, Jr., District 3, who cast the sole vote against the ordinance, said “I don’t feel like I need to explain myself to anybody on how I vote, but I will.

“I think it should be done but I am still very apprehensive about the timing of it.

“That’s still how I feel.”

Demolition of the existing pad is slated to begin in two to three weeks, as weather allows.