Buzzards Bay Splash Pad

Ella VanderStaay, 7, enjoys a cascade of water while playing at the splash pad in Buzzards Bay Park.

The possibility exists that the new splash pad at the renovated Buzzards Bay Park will have its hours of operation curtailed, or even be shut down. Those options were floated during a contentious meeting of the Buzzards Bay Water District Board of Commissioners Tuesday, June 12.

Water district officials took exception to not being consulted on how the splash pad would impact water usage in the district. Officials said the use could severely impact service to the district’s customers.

Water district superintendent Steven Souza said that in the first week the splash pad was open, the park used approximately 49,000 gallons of water per day and a total of 343,000 gallons that week. He said the usage was for both the splash pad and irrigation of the new lawn at the park, although he was unable to say how many gallons were used for each.

This is significant, he said, considering the state Department of Environmental Protection has set a limit of 530,000 gallons per day that the district can pump from the ground.

Adding to the problem is the district’s trouble keeping its water tanks full, in part because a lead pump had to be shut down last December, Mr. Souza said. The pump was shut down as part of construction on a new well off Scenic Highway by Bournedale Road. The district lost the ability to pump 500 gallons a minute with that pump being shut down. The pump and the new well are expected to be online in early July, he said.

Former water district superintendent Barry Woods, who now serves as a consultant, noted that if use of the splash pad continues to make it difficult to keep the tanks full, mandatory water restrictions could be necessary. Mandatory restrictions means that non-essential use of water would be curtailed, and that would result in the commission directing the town to close the splash pad, Mr. Woods said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioner Wendy J. Chapman was the most critical voice.

Ms. Chapman challenged Peter J. Meier, chairman of the board of selectmen, several times over the district not being invited to meetings during which design of the park was discussed. Mr. Meier served on the Main Street Steering Committee, the group which shepherded the park project, and was a strong advocate of the renovation.

The issue came up when Mr. Meier said that over the three to four years during which the park was designed, no one from the water district came to any meeting during which there was discussion of the park. Those meetings often included discussion about the splash pad.

Ms. Chapman questioned whether an invitation was made to have someone from the commission attend.

“Who was involved that didn’t think the water district needed to be notified of water usage?” Ms. Chapman said.

Ms. Chapman’s fellow commissioner Joseph J. Carrara Sr. concurred. Mr. Carrera said no one from the commission was ever invited to attend a meeting of the board of selectmen or the steering committee to provide input.

“We were never invited, Peter,” he said.

Mr. Meier countered that the commissioners had ample opportunity to attend without being specifically invited. He pointed out that the splash pad had been written about extensively in the newspaper and discussed during Annual and Special Town Meetings. There were plenty of public forums at which commissioners could have offered advice, he said.

“Any of you could have come forward to any of the meetings and spoken up,” he said.

Mr. Meier added that the selectmen received reports on the park’s progress twice a year, and he discussed it as an agenda item once a month. During that time, the commission did not communicate any concerns with him.

He said it was not until very late in the construction process that he became aware of the commissioner’s water concern.

Ms. Chapman again pressed him on the commission not being invited to meetings about the park.

“Did you at that point decide to invite the district to the meetings, when you became aware there was a problem?” she said.

Mr. Meier reiterated that the commissioners had their own opportunities to go to meetings and voice concerns.

He noted that the park project cost $2.3 million, and repeated his dedication to the renovations, including the splash pad, given the investment the town has made in terms of time and money.

“We invested the money in that area to bring people back to that side of Main Street and it comes at a cost. And you can’t put a cost on something that impacts positively children and families alike,” he said.

Ms. Chapman countered that the water usage at the splash pad could prevent people from getting water in their homes.

“What if we go over capacity of how much we can pump, and people can’t get water in their houses to drink... but we’ll have a splash pad,” she said.

Ms. Chapman’s husband, James H. Chapman Jr., who attended the meeting as a district customer, noted that the water district bases its customer rates on water usage, and the increase in water usage by the splash pad could cause rates to increase. Mr. Chapman said he is not against the splash pad but also questioned the benefit it is providing the town.

“It’s not bringing business, and even if it did, it’s bringing some taxes that are going to the state,” he said.

Mr. Meier concluded by saying measures will be taken in the future to recapture water for reuse. There is nothing that can be done this summer, other than adjust the timing of the splash pad’s use by cutting back on the hours. He also reiterated the town’s determination to work with the water district and cautioned that it did no one any good to point fingers of blame.

“It doesn’t do you or us any good to have this back-and-forth fighting,” he said.

(9) comments

Park101

The water usage at the park will not be a strain on the town’s water supply, but residents should continue to conserve water, Joe Carrara said.

The district will work with town officials on the park’s water usage and other issues in the future so everyone benefits and there is enough good, clean water for district customers at a reasonable rate, Carrara said.

“We strive to do that,” he said.

Sparky

Water usage and costs are slowly but surely becoming issues at the newly opened Buzzards Bay Park and playground on Main Street’s west end.
“The water bill is going to be huge,” Town Administrator Thomas Guerino told selectmen June 5. “We’ll try to conserve where we can.”
There are also issues with the time town public works crews already need to maintain the open space next to the canal. Bourne Public Works Superintendent George Sala said park hours of operation likely will have to be “tweaked” somewhat so they more easily dovetail with his department’s clean-up and maintenance efforts.
Sala said on an average day, 49,000 gallons of water is used at the park. He said he would consult with the Buzzards Bay Water District to set a park/playground/splash pad water-usage rate, saying amounts used by groups could be metered.

Sparky

Park 101 quite frankly, you are a hypocrite. You claim that the communication was false but you spread mistruths about the only person who had a problem was Ms. Chapman the new commissioner. Articles in the paper show that everyone at the water district was concerned about the water usage and the new well being the last well that can be dug. There are no scare tactics. Its fact. If there was plenty of water, the water district wouldn't have been so concerned. Obviously, you haven't read all the articles from the Enterprise to the Courier on the fact that even the leaders of the Town are concerned about the water usage and stated so and are going to try to curb the usage. Figures don't lie so go check them out, they are available at the water district. Furthermore, if you check out the Selectmen's meeting the other night, you will find that they themselves admit the usage was way underestimated and blamed it on the engineers miscalculation. The Chairman, stated that he felt that the water district was overstating water usage. Meters don't lie but obviously he feels he is more qualified than the engineers and professionals who run the water district. When leaders spread mistruths and their own opinions to make themselves look better, people like you who don't check out the facts continue those mistruths and smear spreading. The current commissioners have shown a concern for the town and its future as shown in articles in the paper. I'll take people in charge looking out for the Buzzards Bay residents over those who sit back and do nothing or those playing politics which lead to your response.

BoyMommy

Just another example of town “officials” not communicating. Fire the officials and adjust the water pressure.
What else is there to do in that tired area? There needed to be a kiosk put in place for refreshments while the splash pad is open. It would bring $ into the town plus part time jobs.
Did anyone expect an increase of beer or bikes sales? There is nothing else in that area to spend $$$

Park101

The cost of recharge/reclamation area was between $300,000 & $500,000. It was cheaper to pay the going rate for the BBWD for this summer then to add the recharge/reclamation system as part of the overall package upfront.
The town knew that it was going to be a phase in approach and any long term water plan was going to be a year after opening.
Was it wrong? No. It was pure economics. And the scare tactics and misinformation is rampant from the BBWD point if view. Only 1 Commissioner had a issue with the water usage. That is Wendy Chapman .Joe Carrara or Bob Either own family members were big in the creation and planning of the park or in Bob’s case his daughter is a major user with her children.
CPC revenue paid for the construction. The water cost and the DPW are within the operating budget of the town. No additional tax increas at all for the park post construction. And the scare tactics of BBWD rates increasing next year. You as BBWD can e-mail or call the water Commissioners and push for them no to vote in a increase.

Sparky

Good point Robo. Everyone is talking about why the Town didn't use salt water. Unfortunately after checking out the options, the committee supposedly discussed using salt water but the costs related to pumping; filtration, etc., wouldn't be cost effective and hard to control according to reports. Maybe that's why Scenic Park got rid of their salt water pool. The committee although the park is beautiful did a terrible job about the costs to taxpayers to include the monthly water usage costs and the detrimental affect on water supplies which will be tremendous. As reported by the Water District they were never consulted nor did the Water District make inquiries as reported. One would think a responsible committee would have checked out water usage and the cost and present it at the Town Meeting which reportedly they did not or it was underreported. Buzzards Bay citizens get taxed 3 times for the park. Once with CPA funds, Once with a tax increase and water rate increase looking like its the highest of the 3 districts, and they have to foot part of the cost through taxes for the enormous bills coming for water usage. Plus, there is no more wells or land to dig wells in Buzzards Bay according to the Water District and there is a lot of growth about to happen. Hopefully, the people in charge of this beautiful park will set some controls to offset the cost and keep the water portion of the park open. All of the articles on this park show from the Top on down that mistakes were made big time from estimated costs to the DPW usage. One can only hope that our leaders will brainstorm to correct the deficiencies so the families will have something downtown that doesn't turn into another eyesore.

RobO

[whistling]The community does something that is a huge success and they talk of closure ? Get some pipe and and a pump and a plug and tap the canal. Its the cleanest salt water in the country and its effects would add wonderful ambiance to the Splash Park experience!

Sparky

Good point Angler, plus the 1.5 million dollars to dig the well is footed by just 2500 residents and it is the LAST WELL, Buzzards Bay has. If it runs dry, Buzzards Bay is in big trouble. Not to mention, take a look at the water rates versus the amount of gallons stated which will increase if controls aren't put in place. Not only did the park cost the 2.3 million but the monthly cost of water will be astronomical by taxpayers. Everyone is for the kids and families which is great, but I don't remember the Committee ever publishing or bringing to Town Meeting that Buzzards Bay will be on their last well; the amount of water usage and the cost of that water. Hard to take after rates and taxes just went way up. The new projects in B. Bay aren't even built yet and that will take a major toll on the wells. We must support our Police and Fire Departments and other facilities within the Town.

angler

Considering that water usage is so critical in actually allowing economic development to happen in Bourne , you would think that better planning occurred in regards to the usage of this valuable water source for such purposes as a splash pool. Why not institute a recycling of the base water supplied through a filtering system or using salt water drawn from the Cape Cod Canal That may well be the solution rather then wasting good clean fresh water needed for household use and for economic development so badly needed in this area.

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