Spray park plan for Amherst’s Groff Park moves ahead

  • The sun sets at Groff Park in Amherst in December 2016.  FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/11/2019 12:12:05 AM

AMHERST — Despite being unable to secure a contractor to begin work last fall on building the town’s first splash pad at Groff Park and a new playground and pavilion, town officials are confident the project will commence this spring.

Amherst will advertise bids this month for the $1.25 million project which will modernize the recreational site, located off Mill Lane.

“We are excited by it, and local parents are excited by it,” Senior Planner Nathaniel Malloy said about the project. “We are optimistic we will have it done by July 4.”

The town was rebuffed in its efforts to get the project started in the fall when the lowest qualified bid exceeded the money available for the project by about $200,000, and the lowest overall bidder withdrew the bid.

Malloy said the town had an aggressive schedule and had hoped contractors could squeeze in some of the work in the fall. Berkshire Design Group of Northampton has estimated a 90-day construction timeline.

Because of the potential cost, which combines money from the town’s Community Preservation Act account and a $300,000 federal land and water conservation grant, the town council may be asked to approve another $200,000 from the CPA account.

Malloy said the project is designed so the spray park, playground and pavilion are fully accessible and exceed the Americans with Disabilities Act code.

The town also has made some changes to the splash pad’s design to reduce costs, including removing a custom pool and swale, made from gunite material.

Malloy said the cost of materials has gone up about 20 percent, including the rubberized surfaces used for both the splash pad and the playground.

The spray park will still have three distinct areas, one for the youngest children, another for those who are a bit older and one for families. It will have more than a dozen features.

“It’s a pretty big splash pad,” Malloy said.

Fewer changes are being made to the design for the playground, where Malloy said the town has been able to secure 2018 prices on the equipment to be installed. An internal design team at Town Hall removed some decorative paving from the plans and tried to reduce the costs, with one area of savings being selecting equipment in different colors.

As for the pavilion, the main change is no longer having a custom roof, which was deemed too expensive.

The town’s Department of Public Works removed the playground last year, and took out the wading pool in 2017. More site preparation and excavating is also being done by town employees.

Malloy said the town is also removing work at the lower level of Groff Park, such as the existing pavilion, which is closer to the Fort River. “We are pulling back on the pavilion,” Malloy said.

Shade structures designed to go over new benches near the playground may also be stripped from the plans.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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