The splash pad at Holland Park, briefly Palm Coast’s crown jewel but now its parks’ most beleaguered black eye, will have its 10,000 square feet of surface padding torn up and discarded starting Monday, and stretching for at least a week, possibly more.
The removal of the rubbery, once-colorful “poured-in-place” or “PIP” surface material will be done by city crews. It’s not part of any reconstruction, but the reverse: the city is attempting to reverse-engineer the problem that led to the splash park’s fatal malfunction, forcing it to shut down a year ago after being opened only in late spring of 2021, and for a few weeks of that summer.
“We didn’t want to give false hopes that it’s being repaired, because it’s still not at that stage,” Brittany Kershaw, the city’s chief spokesperson, said today.
Removing the surface is a necessary step as crews and a consultant, Marine Aquatic Design and Engineering, the city hired for up to $50,000 last June examine the underpinnings of the splash pad to determine what went wrong and whose responsibility it was among the major contractors who built the pad, a $5.1 million project that was part of Holland Park’s $6.3 million latest revamp, completed in 2021. (See: “Splash Pad Boondoggle at Holland Park: Council Considers Suing Builders and Scrapping $5.1 Million Amenity.”)
There are several contractors. For now, none of them is taking sole responsibility, if any responsibility at all. Last spring, the city issued a notice of claims to each of them. That notice is the precursor of legal action. The contractors have agreed to take part in mediation, “and the parties are working together to understand why the splash pad is not performing properly and how to resolve this matter effectively,” a city release issued today states.
Mediation is not taking place until October. That could potentially make further legal proceedings unnecessary. (Should the matter result in a civil lawsuit, mediation would be required then, too.) But the results of the analysis of the splash pad’s underpinnings will presumably pin blame on one contractor or another.
Those underpinnings are a maze of materials, including 23 miles of piping. Part of the analysis will include running water through the system. “This will be the first step, tearing up that surfacing, in identifying the true extent of all the issues with the splash pad, and trying to identify the cause and who is responsible,” Kershaw said.
In a best-case scenario, the city is hoping to find out what went wrong, find out who was responsible, then require that contractor to assume the costs of repairs, even if it’s not that contractor that will carry out the repairs. The city does not want to be in a position to shoulder the costs of rebuilding the p[ad at its own additional expense. There is also a possibility, considered by city council members in a discussion last spring, that the splash pad will not be rebuilt, but rather replaced with something else.
The design team was S&ME, the contractor was BBI Construction management, and a BBI subcontractor called No Fault, a Baton Rouge, La.-based company that specializes in playground and splash pad construction.
Martin Aquatic Design and Engineering is conducting the assessment and working on repair plan. It’ll draft a detailed report outlining the assessment and evaluation of the conditions of the splash pad. The report will be submitted to the city administration and the city council in October or November. The report will include an analysis of the extent of repairs required to safely re-open the splash pad.
Meanwhile the city is keeping track of city staff’s hours spent on the splash pad, so that it may be reimbursed for those expenses pending the resolution of the city’s issues with contractors.
“The City recognizes the inconvenience this causes to families,” the release states, “however, the City’s priority is to provide a safe and enjoyable experience at all parks. The City is committed to working with community professionals to develop an efficient, comprehensive repair to the splash pad so it may be used for its intended purpose and serve the community at large.”
Holland Park remains open for all other recreational activities. This includes the expansive playground, sports fields, dog park, tennis and pickleball courts, covered pavilions, shuffleboard and bocce ball courts, sand volleyball court, basketball courts, and more.