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Council approves additional funds for playground project

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Presque Isle City Council voted during a special meeting on April 11 to cover additional expenses that have arisen from the Riverside Park Community Playground Project.

At the Sargent Family Community Center, Recreation and Parks Director Chris Beaulieu told councilors that in order to complete the project and open the splash pad, which was installed in late summer 2017, the Presque Isle Utilities District must relocate the water-main from underneath the playground to the splash pad. The cost for relocation is $17,500 while the Presque Isle Utilities District has agreed to replace the aged piping and fitting at no cost.

Presque Isle Recreation and Parks Director Chris Beaulieu (center) explains the layout of the future new playground at Riverside Park during a special City Council meeting at the Sargent Family Community Center on Wednesday, April 11, while City Manager Martin Puckett (far left), Councilor Craig Green and Councilor Kevin Freeman look on. Councilors voted to reallocate funds from the sale of the former William V. Haskell Community Center building and the Community Center Building Reserve to help pay for additional expenses that have arisen for the playground project. (Melissa Lizotte | Star-Herald)

The Playground Project Committee has also learned that it will cost an additional $30,000 for groundwork required to install a wheelchair-accessible pour-in-place surface on the playground site. The committee had previously received a $100,000 donation to cover the entire installation, but that figure did not include the unanticipated expense.

“There are places on the playground where the rubber material of the pour-in-place has to be thicker, but once it’s laid out the material stays flat throughout the entire area,” Beaulieu explained. “We have reached out to the donor of the $100,000 for possible additional funds and we expect to hear from her soon.”

He added that a “representative from the splash pad manufacturer is scheduled to give a training to the recreation department staff on May 14 on how to operate the equipment, so it’s important that the water-main be relocated before other equipment is installed. Once the training is completed the splash pad itself should be ready to go.”

Another $30,000 will be needed to install two-inch blue board insulation underneath the playground to protect equipment from colder weather during the fall and winter months and to utilize rebar for the concrete areas to help those spaces withstand tension over time. Thus far the committee has received $275,000 in community donations, but the additional costs along with expenses from playground equipment and the required $195,090 for construction leaves the city with a total project cost of $474,390.

To combat the funding shortage, Beaulieu proposed that the city transfer the $61,042 in proceeds from the sale of the former William V. Haskell Community Center building and $80,149 of unused funds from the Community Center Building Restricted Reserve to the Riverside Playground Project Special Reserve.

The councilors unanimously voted to approve the fund transfers, giving the project an additional $141,191. They also approved awarding the $195,090 playground construction contract to Buck’s Construction, a Mapleton-based company.

With new playground equipment expected to be installed by late spring or early summer 2018, families in the Presque Isle area will have another option for outdoor activities in addition to the splash pad that was installed at the site of the old Riverside Park playground in late summer 2017. (Courtesy of Landscapes Structures)

Beaulieu suggested that in order to raise the remaining $58,199, the city could hold off on purchasing some of the playground’s smaller amenities such as tables, chairs, benches, a 30×40 shade structure and signage until further donations or funds are received. Currently the committee still has not received word on three community-based grants for which they have applied. Beaulieu noted that there is still potential for other community donors to step forward once they become aware of the project’s needs.

“Every piece of this project is important, but if we have to, we could hold off on some of the amenities now and purchase them later on as more funds become available,” Beaulieu said.

The Recreation and Parks Department has ordered the playground equipment and they hope to begin construction by early May. Once completed in late spring or early summer, the playground will include 32 features such as a jungle gym, slides and a swing set for children from infant to age 12.

“I think it’s awesome that you guys are continuing this project that you started last year, especially with the changes that have come up since then,” Councilor Kevin Freeman said, after the council’s vote. “I know this is a project that people are anxious to see completed.”

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