The Hastings Aquacourt Water Park will see a new splash playground at the conclusion of the upcoming summer season that is at least three times larger than the existing structure at the pool’s zero entry.
That is how Hastings Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Hassenstab described the scope of the planned structure during an interview Wednesday morning.
“It’s a large footprint, so there’s really no comparison to what we’re getting to what’s there now,” he said.
Members of the Hastings City Council Tuesday approved awarding the contract for the new Aquacourt play structure splash pad to Christiansen Commercial Contracting of Pender, which bid $634,100. Christiansen Commercial Contracting had the lowest of four bids.
Construction would begin Sept. 15, with a completion date of May 15, 2021.
The Aquacourt opened in 2004.
“Since that time the facility has primarily stayed the same,” Hassenstab said during Tuesday’s council meeting. “The design of the Aquacourt has served the public well, but it is definitely in need of a new feature. So after doing research it was determined an interactive playground was needed.”
The splash playground will have 23 features that will include a 5-foot tipping bucket that dumps every three to five minutes, three slides, cargo net climber, and a number of jets and bubblers. The new playground will sit in the zero depth area where the kiddie slide and small playground currently sit.
The new structure will sit alongside the concrete bench with canopy and jets.
Hassenstab estimated the playground itself is only about half of the total project cost.
Nebraska passed new regulations pertaining to water filtration and returns about a year after the Aquacourt was built.
“It’s not as simple as plopping the new playground in and hooking it up to a water line,” Hassenstab said. “We have to add new piping for the playground to be put in.”
When the existing playground was built it was intended to be added onto in the future.
“That current playground is obsolete, and so we’re going to eliminate it, but we’re going to use the existing supply water,” he said.
While the existing kiddie slide that is popular with young children will be removed to make space for the new playground, one of the new structure’s three slides is a double kiddie slide intended to serve the same demographic.
Hassenstab said the goal of bringing in the new playground was for it to be interactive and inclusive for all ages.
“With the current one kids kind of got bored real fast,” he said. “This is going to have bubblers and all kinds of jets. It’s really targeting that 1- to 10-year old, essentially.”
Features for children who are older than toddlers, but still too small to ride down the larger slides, were something Hassenstab said the Aquacourt is lacking.
“The structure itself, the diagram probably doesn’t give it justice,” he said. “It’s going to be a very large, dominating structure you’re going to be able to see from the parking lot. It’ll have quite a presence.”
As far as playgrounds in Hastings goes, Hassenstab said, this new structure will be one of the largest in the city.
The playground will be paid for out of the Aquatic Center Fund that was established at the time the Aquacourt was built.
Even after purchasing the new equipment, the city’s Aquatic Center Fund will still have a balance of about $400,000, he said. The fund was established with a little over $1 million and has accrued interest over the years.
The intent of the fund was to do an eventual feature or a renovation.
Hastings Parks and Rec also has been receiving half-cent sales tax funds, some of which eventually will be used for a new Aquacourt feature.
Hassenstab said his department doesn’t have any immediate plans to use sales tax funds for the Aquacourt, but is looking at eventually adding onto the current water slide tower with a new slide.
“At this point we’re focused on this project and continuing to collect sales tax as we get it and bank it up, so we can figure out a plan in the future,” he said. “We’re constantly evaluating how we can keep the Aquacourt as fresh as possible.”
In other business, the council unanimously approved a $434,966 bid from Downey Drilling of Lexington for construction of four injection wells that are part of Phase III Aquifer Storage and restoration project; and also unanimously approved a $1.09 million bid from Van Kirk Brothers Construction of Sutton for construction of water mains to serve the injection wells.
Van Kirk was the ASR Phase II contractor for the water main construction.
The cumulative $1.5 million is much less than the $2.3 million was budgeted for the Phase III work.
Councilman Paul Hamelink pointed out that because ASR bids have continually come in under budget it helped prevent a water rate increase for the current fiscal year. Water rates had increased the previous seven years.
Hastings Utilities Manager Kevin Johnson said HU generates about $6.5 million in water revenue each year, which represents about 10 % of the total HU budget.
To have a supply of clean water comes at a cost, Hamelink said.
“This is a significant cost we just approved, well into seven figures” he said, “and yet our utilities was able to provide it at no cost increase to consumers this past year.”
In other business, the council:
Unanimously approved the application of The Wandering Well for a Class CK liquor license at 427 S. Showboat Blvd.
Unanimously approved the manager application of Theresa L. Parr in connection with the Class CK liquor license of The Wandering Well at 427 S. Showboat Blvd.
Unanimously approved the application of the Nebraska Softball Association for a Class C liquor license at 4103 Osborne Drive East.
Unanimously approved the manager application of Donald J. Patterson in connection with the Class C liquor license of the Nebraska Softball Association at 4103 Osborne Drive East.
Unanimously approved the application of 201 N. Enterprises, LLC doing business as Paul’s Cigar Bar for a catering liquor license at 201 N. Lincoln Ave. Hamelink, who owns Paul’s Cigar Bar, recused himself from the vote.
Unanimously approved moving the City Council work session from March 2 to March 16, 5:30 p.m. at the Hastings Public Library.
Unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding between Central Logistic Services; Gibralter Industries, doing business as Paperworks Industries; Hastings Economic Development Corp. and the city of Hastings for the purchase and build out of the 97,500-square-foot HEDC speculative building. The building will be leased by Gibralter as occupant of the speculative building and be required to create at least eight new jobs within 24 months as a result of the CDBG-assisted project. The jobs must be held by or “made available to” low- to moderate-income individuals.
Unanimously approved a contract amendment on Community Development Block Grant for the Hastings Downtown Revitalization project to extend the end date from May 8, 2020, to November 20, 2021.
Unanimously approved an addendum agreement with Hastings Keno Inc. to continue its keno-type lottery at 1216 W. J St.
Unanimously approved a $965,734 bid from MacQueen Emergency Group of St. Paul, Minnesota, to purchase one 2020 Pierce 110-foot single axle aerial platform for Hastings Fire and Rescue through a lease-purchase finance. The council also unanimously amended the purchase to authorize a 2% increase above the MacQueen bid to cover possible pre-construction change orders.
Unanimously approved the request of Mike Florek, Half Hastings Race director, to use city streets for the Half Hastings Race to be held May 30.
Unanimously approved the closure of a portion of U.S. Highway 281 for the 2020 Half Hastings Race.
Unanimously approved the city’s one- and six-year street improvement plan.
Unanimously approved adopting and approving the execution of an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation to relocate electric lines along U.S. Highway 6/34, which is in conflict with the U.S. 6/34 and Adams Central Avenue roundabout. The project estimate is $376,636, of which 85% — $320,140.60 — is to be paid by the state and the remaining 15% — $56,495 — will be paid by the city utility electric department with the understanding that the state will reimburse Hastings Utilities 85% of actual final costs.
Unanimously approved the following appointments:
— Reappoint Matt Kuhr to the Airport Advisory Board until Feb. 1, 2025.
— Appoint Phil Beda to the Airport Advisory Board until Feb. 1, 2024.
— Appoint LaDaun Schoenhals to the Hastings Planning Commission until Feb. 1, 2023.
— Appoint Michelle Lewis to the Hastings Planning Commission until Feb. 1, 2023.
— Reappoint Rakesh Srivastava to the Hastings Planning Commission until Feb. 1, 2023.