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Town won’t pursue splash park this year

Ashley Andyshak Hayes
News-Post Staff

(5/5) Commissioners on Monday declined to approve a plan to fund and develop a splash park for children at the municipal pool.

The splash park would replace the town's baby pool, which in recent years has been closed multiple times because of leaking pipes, costing thousands of dollars to repair.

Paddock Swimming Pool Co. of Rockville submitted the lowest bid for the splash park, which would include spray jets and a large mushroom fixture.

Paddock's original bid was $58,906, but that has since increased to $62,146, town manager Dave Haller said.

The splash park would have included its own water connection and containment system, which would not have reused the baby pool pipes, Haller said.

The town had anticipated receiving Program Open Space money from the state for the project, but budget cuts at the state level have eliminated that possibility for this year. Commissioners instead considered a budget amendment that would fund the project.

The amendment would transfer a $33,044 surplus in county tax equity funds, a $11,748 surplus in real estate tax revenue, and $15,208 in general fund balance money to the capital improvement projects budget to fund the splash park.

In their discussion, commissioners cited financial concerns as well as concerns about the amount of time required to obtain permits and complete the work.

The pool is scheduled to open June 15; Paddock Pools had expected to complete the work by that date if the required county and state permits could be obtained quickly.

That could not be guaranteed, Haller said, and the pool itself cannot open while construction is under way.

Commissioners President Chris Staiger said that while he liked the splash park plan, he couldn't justify spending the money.

"It's for a rainy day fund, not a splash park," he said of the town's general fund. "The time will come when we can find 75 percent funding for the project (through a grant). It may not be this year, it may not be next year."

Commissioner Tim O'Donnell agreed.

"I do want to see the splash park happen, I just don't think it's appropriate at this time," he said.

No commissioner made a motion to approve the splash park plan or the budget amendment.

In other business, commissioners approved a penalty schedule for violations of the outdoor watering ban enacted earlier this year.

The ban prohibits outdoor water use between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. year-round.

According to the ordinance approved Monday, those who violate the ban will receive a warning for a first offense, and will be charged a $25 fine for a second offense and a $50 fine for all subsequent offenses.

The penalty schedule was approved 4-1, with Staiger opposed.

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