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Baraboo parks commission agrees to splash pad feasibility study
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Baraboo parks commission agrees to splash pad feasibility study

Parks and Recreation Commission (copy)

Parks and Recreation Commission member Michael Plautz asks about plans for a splash pad during the commission's meeting in early February at the Baraboo Civic Center. 

Baraboo parks commissioners now have a way to answer lingering questions about the installation of a splash pad in the city.

Mike Hardy, director of the parks, recreation and forestry department, said the splash pad committee spent roughly 40 minutes discussing three options for hiring a company to conduct a feasibility study and Parks and Recreation Commission members spent another 15 minutes talking about which company best fit their goals.

“There was a lot of interest in kind of keeping it local,” Hardy said.

There were bids from Burbach Aquatics of Platteville, MSA Professional Services of Baraboo and Parkitecture + Planning of Madison. In the end, it came down to money. Parkitecture submitted a quote under budget at $4,585, committee and commissioner Chantel Steinhorst said.

“Some people were kind of nervous because they are new, but the team is not new,” Steinhorst said. “They worked at other companies. I feel like they’ll be a good match for us.”

Parkitecture workers have a connection with the city because they helped build both the lynx and the otter enclosures at the Ochsner Park Zoo while working for Ayres Associates.

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There are six phases for the project, with $5,000 approved for Phase 1. MSA exceeded that number by nearly $2,000. Steinhorst said the committee would have needed additional funding if they chose MSA, ultimately delaying the study for a few months. Additional funds for planning also mean less money to put toward the building process, Hardy said.

The feasibility study should help clarify whether the city can build the splash pad at Attridge Park. That is the preferable location because of its proximity to a trail, which will allow planners to apply for a Department of Natural Resources grant that would cover 60% of their costs. The deadline to apply is May 1, which Steinhorst said is a lengthy process.

“We just want to keep the ball rolling for our feasibility study because it takes a long time to apply for the grant,” she said.

Part of their need to identify whether the site is acceptable comes from a concern over the park’s origins. Because a factory used to be at the location, Steinhorst said organizers need to know if there is a significant amount of concrete below the soil. If the pad can’t be built there because of too many roadblocks, as a condition of the study allows for three other city sites to be examined for a splash pad.

The contract with Parkitecture still needs to be approved by the Baraboo Common Council. It is slated for their consideration Aug. 25, Hardy said. The day after that possible approval, work will begin in Phase I. Hardy said a tentative timeline will allow for a feasibility study to be completed by the end of October. After that, preliminary designs will be produced by the end of the year with a rough cost estimate as well.

“The hope is that we can do this using the grant and donated dollars,” Hardy said. “Taxpayers are already asked to cover a lot.”

The schedule indicates organizers hope to break ground around July 2021, but that depends on a number of factors within the early planning stages and how easily the committee can obtain funding for the project through the grant and donations.

Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget or contact her at 608-745-3513.

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