The Doug Coleman Memorial Splash Park, scheduled to open Friday will not open after all thanks to a last-minute move by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), despite the fact that they had originally stamped the plans before the project even began.
Scioto County Commissioners Chairman Bryan Davis said the problem seems to lie within the drain pipe. The plans, approved by ODH called for the use of a non-pressurized drain pipe to carry the used water back to the filter for reuse. The ODH says the contractor, Vortex, should have used a pressurized pipe. That is where things stand, at an indefinite standstill.
Davis said Vortex has built five such facilities using the same pipe in the state of Ohio prior to building the one at Earl Thomas Conley Park in West Portsmouth.
“We received some correspondence early this week from our Department of Health in regards to the absence of a permit from the state of Ohio on Splash Pad,” Davis said. “We were caught off guard by this because we had thought that the contractor, which is not a local contractor, the contractor that built the Splash Pad itself, had gotten all the permits and had gotten everything that would be done by them.”
Davis said his office heard from the Scioto County Health Department that they had nothing on file, they began to wonder when the state was going to send something down.
“We did receive an official letter Tuesday from the local health department,” Davis said. “We were already in the process of trying to chase down what was going on.”
Davis said the commissioners called the contractor and didn’t get very much feedback initially, and chalked that up to it being the week of Memorial Day.
“Finally, this (Thursday) morning we were able to talk to them,” Davis said. “There is a disagreement at the state level in regards to some issues with the Pad that the contractor and the Ohio Department of Health are trying to work out.”
He said the county has not received any documentation from the ODH as to what their issues are. The county is being told that possibly next week they will see the documentation.
“The contractor is working very hard to explain our position,” Davis said. “They feel like they acted under the approved drawings and they were stamped and approved and what they built was in the drawings. They’re not sure exactly if something has changed in the meantime, from the time they built the Park until now.”
“It’s really sad because we fired it up yesterday (Wednesday) and it’s beautiful,” Davis said. “It works beautifully.”
“You should have seen it,” Commissioner Cathy Coleman said. “It’s wonderful.”
Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree was visibly angry about the last-minute decision citing how long the project has been in the works.
“It looks to me like we have too many control agencies that do nothing more than sit there and put a stamp on something, and then check later to see if it’s okay,” Crabtree said. “So as far as I’m concerned, the people that messed up are the Ohio Department of Health.”
Crabtree reiterated the water is not potable when it goes through the drain pipe. It is taken to a filter to be cleaned before it is reused.
Davis said the commissioners will announce to the public when the Park will open as soon as the issue is solved. He also made it clear any changes that need to be made were the responsibility of the contractor and not the county.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.