TRAVERSE CITY — A temporary fix could reopen the city’s long-dry, $360,000 splash pad at Clinch Park in time to catch a few of the last remaining hot days of summer.
The city opened the splash pad prior to the National Cherry Festival without obtaining any state permits, then had to shut it down after the water feature rained raw-sewage contaminated water on unsuspecting children. The city received notice on Thursday the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved redesigned plans for the water feature and will inspect the splash pad on Aug. 27.
“If we get the green light, we can charge up the system,” said Russ Soyring, city planner and project manager for the Clinch Park renovation.
Soyring said he doesn’t yet know what the schedule for the splash pad will be if it passes inspection. The city has two staff members in the parks and recreation department who are trained to operate it.
About 15 people reported gastrointestinal illness or rash after playing in the city’s water feature just days after it opened on June 25. The splash pad’s overflow drain sits inches above the underground reservoir that fed the water feature’s sprinklers. A sewer back-up spilled raw sewage, mostly from the marina, into the reservoir.
The city disconnected the overflow drain from the sanitary sewer. It will now use the recirculating pumps to remove any overflow water due to rain back to the pump house. The overflow would then flow from a pipe that rises about six feet above the floor before descending and out-letting about six inches above a floor drain in the pump house.
“The sewage would have to back up about six-feet-deep for it to flow back into the splash pad,” Soyring said. “At that point we’d be evacuating the city.”
The city has decided long term it wants overflow rain water to drain into undergound drywells at the park capable of handling a once-every-100-years rain event. The original estimate to create the drywells was about $28,000.
Soyring said city officials believe they can reduce that price by competitively bidding the project. The city wants to have the drywells constructed prior to winter.
Once the project is completed Soyring said the city will work out with project designer Hamilton Anderson who will pay for the work.
“We want to complete the work before we get into discussions about who pays for what,” Soyring said.