The New Albany splash pad in BNA Bank Park will not open this summer, according to city officials.
The facility has several problems that would be costly to fix, said Building Inspector Eric Thomas.
A company called Aqua Construction International of Memphis inspected the splash pad and said it would not be economically feasible to make repairs. The company recommended not putting anymore money into the existing splash pad and starting over, Thomas said.
“His recommendation was to just start all over, build a new park,” Mayor Tim Kent said. “We’re just afraid to open up it because of safety issues.”
The slide itself could cost around $40,000 to repair, and fixing the pump system could cost around $50,000, said Thomas. And even if those repairs were done, the spray pad would still not be completely fixed, Thomas said.
The company that inspected the splash pad recommended demolishing the current facility and installing a new one that meets or exceeds current codes and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
The slide has some structural damage to the metal and is unsafe, Thomas said.
Building a new spray park comparable to the current one could cost $500,000 to $700,000, officials said. The current one was built around 15 years ago and cost about $300,000, said Mayor Kent. It was paid for with tourism tax dollars, the mayor added.
City aldermen expressed disappointment that the splash pad will not be open for children this summer.
“I’m very disappointed that we can’t open it, but we want to make sure it’s safe for our kids and our citizens,” said Alderman Johnny Anderson. “We’re just going to have to step back and regroup and see what we can do maybe toward next year I guess.”
Alderman Amy Livingston said she wants to have a spray park for the children, but she wants the city to do it the right way.
“I know our kids love it,” Livingston said. “We need something like that . . . I’m just disappointed for the kids because I know they want it.”
Alderman Will Tucker said, “I hate it for the kids; I really do, but we want it to be safe.” Hopefully, the city can put plans in place to get another one built, Tucker added.
Alderman Kevin Dale White agreed that putting more money into the existing splash pad would not be a good move for the city.
“If we’re going to spend that type of money we might as well look at starting over,” White said. “It’s going to be a big loss. I hate it for the kids for the summer. That’s a big thing for our kids during the summer.”
But White said the city has do what is safest when it comes to splash pad.
“The slide is not in good shape at all,” White said, adding that the city does not want to take a chance with a child getting hurt.
Mayor Kent said the spray park already needed new pumps and motors, and he does not see any reason to put more money into it. The estimated $500,000 to $700,000 cost to build a new splash pad would be a “major purchase” for the city, Kent said. Coming up with that amount of money will not be easy, the mayor noted.
“It’s devastating,” Kent said. “I’m really saddened by the fact we can’t open it now. But we can’t take the liability.”
The mayor said a splash pad without a waterslide could be built for less money. But he said the slide at the current splash pad attracts visitors from neighboring counties.