Declan O’Neill clears his goggles as he plays in the Spray Park outside the City of Red Deer Recreation Centre Wednesday afternoon. The water feature continues to be a popular place to keep cool as daytime temperatures continue to be hot in Central Alberta. Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff

Rocky Mountain House council conerned about spray park costs

Council votes to take changerooms out of spray park project for now

Alarmed by the spiralling cost of a water spray park, Rocky Mountain House town council has pared the project back.

The $1.4-million project will include a splash pad and washrooms, but a proposal to build change rooms that could be used by local sports teams was trimmed for now, saving around $300,000.

Council did not abandon the change room idea, passing a motion that town administration work with local fundraisers and sports groups to pursue the project as a separate initiative.

A recent consultant’s review of the spray park project found design shortcomings and other issues that would boost the price to $1.7 million from the $1.27 million approved by council in July.

“There were items of concern that were identified in the design of the building,” Wes Amendt, director of recreation and community services, told council. “The original design for the change room facility did not meet building code.

“The changes to the washroom and change room design, as well as other factors, will impact the budget,” he said.

Mayor Tammy Burke raised her concerns about the cost of the spray park, which began as a $600,000 project, only to double in cost as the scope of the project changed to $1.2 million.

An additional $475,000 was now required to build a spray park with washrooms and change rooms.

“I feel like it’s just growing,” Burke said of the project’s budget.

The splash park and change rooms should be separated into two projects, “because the price just keeps ballooning,” she said.

“We’re trying to combine so many things that the price has climbed, for me, to unacceptable levels.

“My biggest struggle is the extra $475,000, and we’re still not sure that’s going to be the end. We’re now closing in on $2 million for a project that started out as $600,000 for the original splash park.”

There has been significant local support for the project, which is expected to be completed in mid-August if all goes according to plan.

The Spray Park Society has raised nearly $336,000, a pair of local businesses donated $75,000 each and a deal to sell the naming rights could provide another $100,000.

A $30,000 Alberta Recycling Grant has been lined up and a $256,000 federal grant application is awaiting approval.

The town and Clearwater County have each approved $300,000. As well, the town is shifting $190,000 in savings from an aquatic centre project.

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