By Bryce Abshier – Contact Bryce@TheVOSM.net
At a recent meeting of the Belleview City Commission, planned improvements for the Wilma Loar Splash Park were a topic of discussion. Each year, the city closes the park during the months of January and February for planned maintenance. This year however, the maintenance will feature improvements to the tune of about $30,000.00.
Bob Titterington, Public Works Director for the city, explained the need for such improvements. “The concrete pad itself, from the water splashing on it, has warn down the surface and the cement has left,” said Titterington. “It leaves holes. And these holes, we’ve been watching them the last year or so trying to fill them. The holes themselves are extremely sharp. And we’re concerned now that there is enough of them that some kid may get his finger, see the hole, stick is finger in it or step in it. So we researched alternatives to try and fix the surfaces for them to last.”
Their research lead them to discover a rubbery-type of finish surface that could be applied to the splash pad itself. This will not only protect the concrete from further erosion but also provide a bouncy-layer of protection that will have some forgiveness for kids slipping and falling at the park.
According to Titterington, finding a contractor to offer this service and apply such a surface is extremely specialized. The city finally found a vendor that offers this type of work, Softroc of Ocala, who reportedly provides their services to large attractions like Disney and Seaworld.
Titterington urged the commission to award this project to Softroc of Ocala so the park can reopen as scheduled at the end of February. If they were to go through the standard bid process for this contract, according to Titterington, the work would be delayed and the city would likely end up with only one bid.
The estimate from Softroc of Ocala is itemized to include installation of “flex aqua seal rubber” to the inner circle of the splash pad, covering 1,505 square feet, at $28,595.00. The “rubber safety surfacing” will be 3/8 of an inch thick.
Sparking some debate amongst the commission, the estimate also included an additional $1,000.00 for a “design inlay” to have the City of Belleview logo (minus the interior part of the logo featuring Lake Lillian), added to the new finish. Reportedly, the logo will have “City of Belleview” with stars on each side and the founding year of 1885.
On the topic of the logo, Commissioner Bo Smith said “I personally don’t think we need to spend the extra money for the logo and the names and all of that.”
Sandi McKamey, Belleview’s City Administrator, replied to Smith with “That’s only a thousand dollars.”
“Yeah, that’s just a thousand,” added Public Works Director Titterington.
Commissioner Smith then asked “How long is it going to look good? With the water and the sun and everything else beating down on the logo, and all of that, we spend that money and then it starts looking bad.”
“How long is this stuff supposed to last and what type of warranty comes with it?,” asked Smith. An answer was not readily available for that question.
Belleview City Mayor Christine Dobkowski then weighed in with her thoughts. “For me, everything has wear and tear and unfortunately has to be replaced every certain number of years.”
“Every 5, 6 years we’re probably going to have to do maintenance and replace things. I don’t think the answer is to just say ‘no’ and not do it at all,” Dobkowski said.
Smith still insisted that he’d like to know how long the investment of Belleview taxpayer funds would last. “To me, that’s a lot of money without knowing how long it is going to last,” he said.
City Administrator McKamey again replied to Smith, this time saying “If you look at it on a per year basis, it’s not a lot of money.”
Commissioner Smith then said “I’d still like to have an answer Bob (Titterington). What’s their warranty on it, and how long is it going to last?”
Mayor Dobkowski explained why she’d like the city logo to be added. “We have our seal on everything. Eventually, it’s probably going to fade and then we might have to redo it. But it just makes, it gives our city character.”
“It just gives people pride. You know, this is our Wilma Loar City of Belleview Splash Park. It just looks good,” said Dobkowski.
The Belleview City Commission approved this contract to Softroc of Ocala by a measure of 4-1. Bo Smith was the one vote opposed.
Reportedly, the project will be completed by the end of February, just in time for warmer weather and the reopening of the Splash Park.