Nanaimo construction crews are wading into a major upgrade of popular spray park, officials say was in "bad shape" and on the verge of being shut down.
The City of Nanaimo has begun a $250,000 overhaul of Departure Bay Centennial Park in the lead up to summer.
City officials say the upgrade was desperately needed, with "huge cracks" in the asphalt that presented a safety hazard and 20-year-old water features. Much of the equipment had been created by city staff members in the 1990s and were tough to maintain, says Ian Blackwood, Nanaimo's manager of facilities and construction.
The overhaul will see crews completely rebuild the spray park with new benches, asphalt surfaces and $123,000 worth of water features from RecTec Industries.
Other destination spray parks in Nanaimo, like Harewood and Deverill Square, have already seen improvements.
"I think this is going to be a really nice addition to the park," Blackwood said.
"The equipment was just at the end of its life . . . (and) the asphalt had huge cracks in it. If we hadn't done this upgrade, (the park) would have been shut down this summer."
Departure Bay is one of the oldest waterparks in Nanaimo, second only to Deverill Square. When it was built in the 1990s, city staff members had no options to buy spray features from companies like RecTec, so they made a lot of the equipment themselves, according to Blackwood.
"We made the bridges and concrete whale; we made spray (features) out of wooden boxes and fire hydrants and little frogs from the garden shop," he said. "It was neat, but hard to maintain.
"Every year was a battle." The equipment had reached the end of its life and cracks in the asphalt started to present a tripping hazard, prompting the need for fixes, according to the city's recreation department.
They had hoped to do the upgrade in 2012, but the budget was delayed by 12 months.
The changes now underway "should be a big improvement" and something people will likely be very happy with, said Jeff Ritchie, the city's senior manager of parks and civic facilities. Jennifer Hoffman calls the work at the park good news.
She and her family often use the sports field in the summertime and she's noticed over the years the neighbouring spray park has become run down and "not as nice as the other parks in Nanaimo."
The upgrades will be good for the look of the park, according to the mother of two, who hopes the upgrades also include touch ups to the park washroom.
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