Riverboat gamble would complete splash park job

Friday, March 14, 2014

The stakes have been high, and both the Greencastle Civic League and City of Greencastle have anted up.

For the past three years, Civic League members bet their reputation as community supporters on their ability to fundraise for a planned Splash Park project at the Greencastle Aquatic Center at Robe-Ann Park.

They saw the matching portion needed for a 2012 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant and raised enough that the splash park could be completed for $250,000 in accordance with original 2011 estimates.

But after initial bids on the project recently came in above engineers' estimates of $344,000, the Park Board and city officials had to get a little creative Thursday night in determining how to fully fund the Bob York Memorial Splash Park project and keep it on schedule for a July 4 grand opening.

So now, it's time to gamble just a little with the project timetable at stake for 2014.

That's why a portion of the city's share of Riverboat Money -- Greencastle's portion of state taxes paid by riverboat casinos -- is being earmarked for use on the project.

The Greencastle City Council will be asked to set aside an amount not to exceed $110,000 to ensure completion of the splash park project.

"We don't anticipate it will be $110,000," City Attorney Laurie Hardwick told the Park Board Thursday night. "We feel it will be less than that, but by asking the Council for that amount, we won't have to go back to them (for additional funds)."

The fear is that any such further delay might derail the project for this season.

"Time is of the essence," Hardwick said. "If we have to delay even a month, we won't be able to make this swim season."

The city receives approximately $300,000 annually in its share of Riverboat Funds, Hardwick said, noting that using such funds on "something good for the whole community" seems in harmony with the idea behind the funding.

City Councilor Phyllis Rokicki, who was attending Thursday night's special Park Board on behalf of the Council, was asked how she felt about using Riverboat funds on completing the splash park.

She called it "a worthy use of the money."

Park Board member Cathy Merrell took that even further.

"It seems like a perfect place to put that," she said. "Every kid in Putnam County will want to hang out there."

Meanwhile, Civic League members continue to pursue additional in-kind donations from area contractors for construction elements that could help reduce the overall project cost.

Those in-kind donations could also help restore some of the water features that were cut out to reduce the scope of the project in an effort to bring funding in line with available resources.

Currently not included in the project are five water features, ranging in price from $4,000 to $8,000, that had been bid as alternates on the project, along with a gate as a sixth alternate.

The splash park as presently constituted has 17 play connections, many of which are bubblers, especially enjoyed by younger patrons, it was pointed out.

In addition to approving a proposal to ask the City Council for Riverboat Money to complete the project, the Park Board also approved a $387,000 contract with R. L. Turner Construction and authorized a notice to proceed, contingent upon the Council's approval of additional funding.

Park Board member Tim Trigg made the motion to approve those moves with Merrell and president John Hennette adding affirmative votes. Board member Beva Miller was absent.

The Park Board will next meet in regular session at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3 at City Hall.

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