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CHARGES FLY AS HEAVY RAIN FORCES CLOSING OF KING PARK SPLASH PAD

Too much water proved to be a bad thing for the spray and splash pad in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, which has been closed since the torrential downpour of July 4.

"There was water damage when we had the big rainstorm," City Parks Coordinator Dennis Maloney said Tuesday. Water got into the electrical vaults and shorted out the electrical system and sump pumps, he said.

"They're designed to handle water, but the amount of rain that we had during that storm was way above normal," Maloney said.

Officials were trying to determine whether the system's sump pumps were turned off inadvertently before the storm, contributing to the flooding and damage.

After decades of planning and years of delays, the long-awaited water feature opened June 12 with great fanfare.

Masten Council Member Antoine M. Thompson vented his frustration about the situation in a memo to lawmakers and others.

"We can't continue to sit here and let this pool not be in operation," Thompson said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

There's been a lot of finger-pointing since July 4 about who's responsible for repairs, he said. The contractor? Erie County? The city?

Thompson said even he doesn't know.

Neither does Richard C. Cummings, chairman of the Coalition to Save MLK Jr. Park.

Cummings said he was trying to schedule a meeting with municipal officials, the contractor and manufacturer of the equipment.

Maloney, Thompson and Cummings could not estimate when repairs might be made and the water facility reopened.

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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