End in sight for Amherst Groff Park spray park project — and summer

  • Construction of a new spray park, playground and pavilion continue at Groff Park in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/SCOTT MERZBACH

  • Construction of a new spray park, playground and pavilion is continuing at Groff Park in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer
Published: 8/14/2019 11:16:17 AM

AMHERST — As summer winds down, construction of the town’s first spray park continues, though it remains uncertain whether the site will be ready for children to use this season.

At Groff Park on Mill Lane, crews from JL Construction Corp. of West Springfield are finishing up the $1.2 million project that includes a splash pad, a new playground and a new pavilion.

The project is taking place on the upper part of the site, near the parking area, restroom building and playing fields, while the lower area closer to the Fort River remains unchanged, with an older pavilion and an aging playground that features swing sets and a sandbox.

Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek said this week that good progress is being made.

“The pavilion is up, and most of the play structure is up,” Ziomek said, adding that the concrete work has been finished.

One of the final aspects of the project is to complete the safety features required.

“The rubber surface needs to be laid down beneath the playground,” Ziomek said.

Unlike the older sections of Groff Park, the new elements will be fully accessible and exceed the Americans with Disabilities Act code.

Completion of the project is two to three years behind a schedule created when town officials first contemplated the improvements, leaving Groff Park without a formal place to cool off for three summers.

Annual Town Meeting in May 2016 authorized the initial spending of $550,000 in Community Preservation Act money to construct the spray park, which in the initial timeline was supposed to be ready to go for summer 2017. A 1950s-era wading pool at Groff Park was open for its final summer in 2016 before being demolished by the Department of Public Works to make way for the spray park.

Earlier this year, Town Manager Paul Bockelman said he wanted the spray park to open this season to make sure it is functioning correctly, so that if tweaks are needed, the contractor will still be on site.

Bockelman said children might get to experience the splash pad with some warm weather left in 2019, whether in August or September.

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

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