Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 3, 2013

Electrocution was chief concern with splash pad


Officials reopened the splash pad June 27 without a required DEQ pool permit. And documents show city officials also failed to obtain necessary permits for a host of other Clinch Park projects.

City officials discovered late on June 28 that the $2.9 million Clinch Park makeover lacked occupancy permits for the tunnel entrance, pavilion and bathrooms. Also lacking was an electrical permit required for the entire park, including the splash pad.

City officials in part blamed their general contractor, Hallmark Construction.

"We were surprised because we had been told verbally by (Hallmark) ... earlier in the week the permits were all set," said Russ Soyring, the city's planner and project manager for the park makeover. "Our concern was focused on the mixture of water and electricity for the splash pad."

Makayla Vitous, at the time the acting city manager, huddled with city department heads on the afternoon of June 28, a Friday, and decided to pull the plug on the splash pad. But the decision came after 5 p.m., Soyring said. City Parks and Recreation Director Lauren Vaughn was out of town and the shut-it-down message never reached splash pad operators.

Splash pad foibles

The lack of an electrical permit only added to city officials' concerns. They'd already discovered by accident on May 31 that the project's design firm, Hamilton Anderson Architects, hadn't applied to the DEQ for a splash pad construction permit.

That meant the splash pad would have to remain dry after the park's June 25 grand reopening.

But things changed shortly after the June 25 ribbon-cutting when state Rep. Wayne Schmidt, of Grand Traverse County, waded into the fray and directly contacted DEQ officials. Schmidt, who did not return numerous calls from the Record-Eagle for comment on his role in splash pad problems, said an unidentified constituent told him the splash pad couldn't remain open because the state hadn't issued a permit.

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