Grosse Pointe City to replace baby pool features for use this summer

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 12, 2019

GROSSE POINTE CITY — It’s a bit too cold right now to be thinking about swimming, but Grosse Pointe City officials are already preparing for the summer season at Neff Park.

In keeping with plans to install a new Star Burst water play feature in the Neff Park baby pool, smaller surrounding play features will be replaced as well, with the goal of completing the project before the start of the summer season over the Memorial Day weekend.

Parks and Recreation Director Christopher Hardenbrook said the play features around the Star Burst are four lemon drops, two spray cannons and one downspout.

“Much like the central Star Burst, these features have faded surfaces that are unaesthetically pleasing,” Hardenbrook told the Grosse Pointe City Council at a Feb. 11 meeting. “Due to the years of use and exposure to chemicals and water, these features are cracked, chipped and have been stripped of their protective coating, exposing bare fiberglass in some spots. The downspout does not work properly due to missing parts, the spray cannons are difficult to manipulate for children, and the lemon drops have been glued together countless times.”

The baby pool is 18 years old, and these play features were installed in 2002, making them 17 years old.

As was true for the Star Burst, Hardenbrook said these play features are only manufactured by Ashland, Ohio-based Rain Drop Products LLC for some features and Carrollton, Texas-based Vortex USA for other features, meaning that the City couldn’t engage in a competitive bidding process, as is usually the case.

“The replacement of these features must be … with similar features with the exact same gasket and bolting patterns in order to have proper alignment connecting to the surface of the baby pool,” Hardenbrook explained. “This would be a specialized purchase, replacing the old features with new features that properly align with the existing baby pool feature mounts.”

Rain Drop and Vortex will be supplying the City with two enhanced water cannons and tumble buckets with sails, he said. The cost of the Rain Drop features with delivery is $15,176, while the cost of the Vortex features with delivery is $11,780, for a total of $26,956, Hardenbrook said. He said the nonprofit City of Grosse Pointe Foundation has offered to donated up to $13,000 for the purchase, and the City has $24,893 available in the capital projects fund for purchase and installation of these items.

Mayor Christopher Boettcher said Hardenbrook delivered a presentation to the foundation in an effort to secure funding “so we could enhance the look of the park.

“To Chris’ (credit),” the mayor continued, “he’s done a great job being fiscally (responsible).”

The council voted unanimously Feb. 11 in favor of the purchase.

Installation of the features will be done by another company, which Hardenbrook said is the same one that cleans and maintains the pool during the summer. It wasn’t known at press time what that cost would be.

With appropriate care, Hardenbrook said, these new features should last roughly 15 to 20 years.