Albion village officials say they are committed to Bullard Park improvements

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 September 2018 at 8:18 am

Splash pad will be constructed next year

Photo by Tom Rivers: The basketball hoop at Bullard Park is pictured in this file photo from Aug. 4, 2015.

ALBION – Members of the Rebuild Bullard Committee told the Village Board on Wednesday they are frustrated by a lack of progress in some of the high-profile improvements planned for Bullard Park, including an amphitheater and splash pad.

Ron Albertson, president of the Albion Lions Club and one of the Rebuild Bullard leaders, say residents tell him they are excited for the upgrades but wonder why it’s taking so long.

The village in December 2016 was awarded a $499,605 state grant for Bullard improvements with the village providing $166,370 with in kind-services or funding.

The overall $665,975 project includes a spray park, amphitheater/performance stage, a walking/hiking trail with signage, infrastructure (water and sewer) for the spray park, a utility building, and parking lot and lighting improvements.

“Are you committed to it?” Albertson asked the board members.

The board members say they are committed to the project. This year there have been unexpected pressing assignments that pulled the Department of Public Works from working on the amphitheater. Albertson had hoped that performance stage would be in place for the Rock the Park concert in August.

The amphitheater was supposed to be a pre-fab building that would be easy to construct. But it is instead a stick build that will require a big effort, more than the DPW can do and still get paving projects done before winter, Jay Pahura, the DPW superintendent, said at Wednesday’s meeting.

“It’s an Erector set,” Pahura said. “My guys are not comfortable with it.”

The village may have the structure built by a contractor. Any in-kind hours from the DPW or dollars spent by a contractor would count towards the village’s local share for the project.

The DPW needed to work this summer on Route 31 as part of the state’s repaving. The DPW reset 25 manholes, and put in new water and sewer infrastructure from 31 to the edge of the park. Lines can be run from that spot once the final layout is determined for the spray park and possibly new bathrooms. (The DPW also had to run a 700-foot water line on West Academy Street so the new RTS Orleans transportation facility would have adequate water pressure for its sprinkler system, another unexpected project for the DPW.)

The spray park was planned to be behind the playground equipment in the middle of the park. Mayor Eileen Banker worries about vandalism with the splash pad, especially in light of frequent damage to the bathrooms at Bullard this year.

“I’m committed but I’m very nervous about the splash pad,” Banker said. “We’ve seen so much damage with our bathrooms at Bullard.”

Police Chief Roland Nenni urged the board to have the splash park closer to road with lighting. He thinks a more visible location would deter vandals.

“Let’s design it so we’re dealing with these problems,” the police chief said.

The spray park is on schedule to be built in 2019, Trustee Gary Katsanis said.

The board said the village will follow through with the park improvements. Not doing so would jeopardize future grants for Albion. The board also wants to see the park better utilized as a draw for the community.

“It has to get done or we as a village will be in trouble,” Katsanis said.

The grant application called for 6,000 hours of work from the DPW, the equivalent of three full-time workers spending a year on the project. Katsanis said that wasn’t a realistic commitment, given the many other projects for the DPW.

“This was a planning failure, a failure of foresight,” he said.

Katsanis and Banker both said the village will push forward with the project and strive to communicate any updates with the Rebuild Bullard Committee.

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