Amherst’s Groff Park playground, splash pad won’t be ready this fall

Staff Writer
Saturday, September 28, 2019

AMHERST — Even with various slides, climbing walls and other equipment to ride on in place at the new playground at Groff Park, both it and the town’s first splash pad will not be ready for use this fall as had been hoped.

Much of the upper area at the Mill Lane park remains a work zone this week, with the playground still awaiting the installment of a pourable rubber surface, and none of the structures that children will run through and hop over in the spray park yet installed.

Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek said what was challenging for JL Construction Corp. of West Springfield was not only having to build an accessible playground, which can be used by children of all ages and abilities and includes wheelchair ramps and a sign with the alphabet in braille, but creating the adjacent spray park.

“It’s definitely a complex build,” Ziomek said. 

Delays were initially related to the cool and wet weather patterns in the spring, Ziomek said, which also caused other projects in the region that broke ground around the same time to fall behind schedule.

The town’s Community Preservation Act account and a state grant are paying for the $1.2 million project. No cost overruns are anticipated. “The goal is to finish it on budget,” Ziomek said.

For the spray park, the contractor is constructing a system that reduces the use of water, lowering the cost to operate it over the long term. 

“That created challenges because with construction a reuse system minimizes the use of water,” Ziomek said.

Ziomek said most of the work should be done before winter, with a ribbon-cutting likely in the spring.

The way the project is designed, children should be able to move between the playground and spray park.

“The idea is kids can go fluidly from one side to the other,” Ziomek said.

Concrete walks line the perimeter, with a pavilion and several shade structures in place, with benches still to be installed so parents can watch their children.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.