It’s a year or more too late, but Traverse City officials are apparently ready to perform the due diligence concerning the design and construction of the ill-fated Clinch Park splash pad they should have demanded long before construction began.
City staff has recommend hiring Wisconsin-based Water Technology Inc., at an initial cost of $7,350 to review whether the water feature complied with industry standards and health department regulations.
The City Commission was to review the proposal Monday night.
Hiring a professional, outside firm to review what went wrong is a total no-brainer. At this point, the only issue may be whether the city should first seek bids for the review. Whoever the city hires must have the expertise and experience to scrutinize this process from beginning to end and look at every detail. There is a lot more to be dealt with here than the fact that the splash pad sprayed children with sewage-tainted water, as horrible as that was.
It now appears the city may have to hire a full-time employee just to clean out filters that become clogged with debris every 30 minutes or so, that a flowing river component doesn’t work as designed, that concrete around splash pad spray nozzles is already cracking, and the pedestrian tunnel under Grandview Parkway floods during heavy rainstorms.
The problems are numerous and will no doubt be incredibly expensive to fix. So any review of the design of the park and the actual construction must be exhaustive, professional and complete, and will require the best firm the city can find to do the work.
City officials have already begun an informal dispute resolution process with Hamilton Anderson Architects, the design firm city officials hired for the $2.9 million park reconstruction, to determine who will pay for any park fixes. The review the city wants Water Technology Inc. to perform will no doubt be a key part of that process.
Water Technology should also be expected to determine, in detail, which city employees apparently allowed work to go forward without necessary permits, including approval from the county health department. The city must determine its own part in this fiasco and deal with what it finds.
On paper, Water Technology Inc. appears to have the chops to do the job. The firm designs and engineers specialty pools and water parks and has a client base that includes SeaWorld. It was listed as the water feature consultant for a firm that lost out to Hamilton Anderson Architects.
The city must get this right. There’s more than just millions in public money on the line — the city’s reputation is at stake as well as the potential Clinch Park represents for decades to come.
There won’t be a third chance.