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MLK splash pad requires repairs

The splash pad in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, open for just two summers, requires repairs that could cost as much as $275,050.

Low-water pressure in some of the 300 fountains alerted city workers that a pipe had cracked or come loose.

“There’s one panel that will be sawed and removed just to see what let loose,” said Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak. “It could be a faulty joint. You don’t know until you open it up.”

Workers, in a hunt for the faulty pipe, will remove concrete in the southwest quadrant to expose some of the four miles of underground pipes. Based on the locations of spray heads with low pressure, city workers believe they have pinpointed where the problem exists.

The five-acre splash pad, at Fillmore Avenue and Best Street on the city’s East Side, was years in the making and opened with great anticipation for the summer of 2013. The splash pad draws crowds on hot days.

The Common Council on Tuesday approved spending $275,050 to repair the underground water lines and then restore the concrete at Humboldt Basin, the formal name of the splash pad, though Stepniak believes the repair work will cost less than that amount.

The repairs will be paid for with money set aside in the original $4.5 million contract for the entire project. The city routinely holds back a percentage of the total project cost in order to cover repairs before the contract is closed out, as is the case with this repair, Stepniak said. So the repair cost is not in addition to the project’s $4.5 million price tag.

The splash pad has an extensive amount of piping and hundreds of joints.

Construction will begin as soon as the contract can be executed, Stepniak said. He hopes the work will take a month, and that the basin can become a reflecting pool for the fall, as had been planned.

The contract went to Titan Development of Gasport. The city’s original prime contractor for the project was Man O’ Trees.

The Buffalo News reported in December that cracks in what had been called “super crack resistant” concrete had emerged. The loose pipe is a separate issue.

The city and the Olmsted Parks Conservancy are working on improvements to the park’s casino, which is west of the splash pad, and the greenhouse in the park.

The Council voted to accept $500,000 in state funds for building renovations in the park, won by the conservancy, and also awarded a $74,910 contract to Flynn Battaglia Architects for architecture and engineering services for a reconstruction of the casino.