PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — While a new splash pad is expected to open this month, a new playground under construction on Riverside Drive will not likely be available until mid-August, according to Recreation and Parks Director Chris Beaulieu.
Beaulieu informed city councilors during their June 6 meeting that although he had hoped to open the playground in late spring, the delivery of equipment has taken longer than expected due to necessary modifications.
“Some of the equipment will be surface mounted and so the contractor found that they needed to add plates to the bottom into order to screw the equipment into the concrete. Other equipment has posts that are buried deeper into the ground, and so there have been certain changes made in regards to that,” Beaulieu said.
Those changes mean that the equipment will not be delivered until mid-July. Beaulieu noted that because playground equipment installations typically take three weeks, the playground will not be open to the public until August. He expects that a grand opening will be held in September.
When completed, the new playground will include 32 features such as a jungle gym, slides and a swing set for children from infant to age 12. The surface of the playground will be a rubber material called “poured-in-place,” which makes maneuvering around the space easier for people using a wheelchair.
The Riverside Park Community Playground Project began in late 2016 as a joint fundraising effort by the Presque Isle Rotary Club, Presque Isle Kiwanis Club and United Way of Aroostook, which raised $274,000 through community donations. In April, the City Council approved an additional $141,191 for the project to cover unanticipated costs related to the installation of a two-inch blue board insulation underneath the playground and the pour-in-place surface.
Beaulieu had suggested at the time that the city wait to purchase smaller amenities such as crosswalk signage, tables and chairs and a 30×40 shade structure, tables, chairs and benches until further funding is received to cover the $40,000 total cost related to those purchases.
“Has the recreation department been able to obtain a grant for the street signage?” Council Chair Emily Smith asked Beaulieu, during Wednesday night’s meeting. “I think moving forward that will be an important feature to have both for pedestrians and drivers.”
“We have multiple grant applications out there right now and thus far I have not heard any answers,” Beaulieu said. “We’re hoping that by the end of August we’ll have the funding to purchase picnic tables and chairs and signage. But people will have access to bathrooms in the Riverside building and there will be a shaded area.”
The delays in the playground installation will not affect the upcoming opening of the splash pad, which was installed late last summer but too late to be used due to increasing cooler temperatures.
Although Beaulieu had hoped to open the splash pad in late spring 2018, officials discovered there were areas where the concrete was higher and did not allow water to drain properly, resulting in standing water on the splash pad. An official opening date will be announced soon after the next test of the drain system is completed, he said.
“I don’t want to throw out an actual date too soon, but my absolute goal is to try to open by next weekend,” Beaulieu told councilors. “We’re confident that once we run the water system again everything will run more smoothly.”
The playground construction area will be blocked off from the splash pad to ensure safety. The Presque Isle Recreation and Parks Department will announce weekly hours for the splash pad before the opening date.
“We hope to keep the splash pad and the playground open at least into September, as long as the weather stays warm enough,” Beaulieu said.