The new playground in Memorial Park broke ground several months ago and the city has been working diligently to get equipment installed and prepare the area for families to enjoy. However, Brad Dennehy, Director of Parks and Recreation, explained to Milford City Council that the rainier than normal summer this year highlighted a few issues that needed to be addressed. This resulted in Dennehy coming to council and requesting change orders that would increase the cost of the playground by $64,000.
“So there’s two issues there. One is usability of the playground. We don’t want it to get flooded out in a big rainstorm. And the other issue is where we’ve got this climbing apparatus. There’s quite a steep bank behind it,” Dennehy said. “There’s an access road that sort of comes along the top of the playground towards the Salvation Army. And I have a concern there as a potential safety hazard for the kids. And ‘m always concerned with children’s safety but also liability issues with the city, potential for damages to come back on us.”
After discussions with the contractor and James Puddicombe, City Engineer, Dennehy explained that there were solutions to the issue. It was recommended that catch basins and additional grading beyond the initial design and the construction of a retaining wall would address both the drainage issue and the safety issue.
“I hate to be in front of council asking for money for a change order. But I think it’s in the benefit of the city for us to do it now,” Dennehy said. “We’ve had a lot of grant funding for this, and Lou Vitola [Finance Director] has assured us that we have money to pay for it. The total we are asking for is $64,000 That’s $36,00 for the retaining wall and $28,000 to address the additional drainage issues. “
Councilman Todd Culotta asked if this was an issue that should have been discovered during the design phase of the project.
“I am really hesitant to say that because I don’t know, Councilman Culotta. Doing two wrongs don’t make a right and if you’re a contractor and you discover something, you’ve got to address it,” Dennehy said. “So ,I can’t go on record on and point the finger of who’s to blame for it. But I know we’ve got an issue there. And I think if we don’t address it now, we’re going to address have to address it after the fact.”
Councilman Andy Fulton pointed out that if council did not address the issues now, they could face problems similar to those that occurred with the basketball courts.
“If we wait till after the fact on this, we’ll have another basketball court issue where we have a facility that could be used by the youth and it becomes unusable because of the wash out and because, if everybody remembers what happened with the basketball courts,” Councilman Fulton said. “And this is a playground and any equipment in there and the mulch, the care and feeding of that area. If it washes out, one you’re going to be spreading that material all the way down the hill. And two, it could possibly make some of those new devices become unsafe as time goes on with the washout. So, I think you definitely want to address this because if you wait until after, it costs more later.”
Councilman Jason James agreed with Councilman Fulton.
“Everything goes up when you wait. The important thing is that we said this was important to the community. It was unforeseen. It was discovered. Either we address it or say we’re not going to use the playground,” Councilman James said. “I mean, to me, that’s where we are right now and there’s RTT funding.” Vitola confirmed that there was RTT funding available if it was needed to complete the project.
There was a public comment portion after the discussion. No one from the public commented for or against the approval of the change order. The measure passed unanimously.
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