When the playground and splash pad areas in West Park closed in late summer 2020 for renovations, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation officials expected them to reopen by summer 2021.
But more than a year after the target opening date, those portions of the park at 2700 W. 116th St. remain closed, thanks to supply chain disruptions, soil conditions and other issues.
“This has been my most frustrating project I’ve been involved with, simply because it’s taken longer than what seems reasonable,” CCPR Director Michael Klitzing said. “I definitely empathize with the public that is ready to use what has always been a well-loved and well-used park. There is no one more frustrated in this community than me that this park isn’t open. We’re doing everything possible to make sure it gets opened safely and as soon as possible.”
The $6.2 million project, funded primarily through the Clay Township Impact Program, experienced delays nearly from the outset with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting supply chains and leading to worker shortages for the project contractor and subcontractors, Klitzing said. These issues have continued throughout the project to some extent.
Early in the construction process, CCPR realized it would need to pause work on the new playground, which is being built into a man-made hill, for three to six months to allow the hill’s soil to fully settle. If construction continued too soon, shifting soil could move infrastructure and lead to other problems. CCPR could have sped up the process with remediation efforts but decided it wasn’t worth the cost.
“At the end of 2020, once the winter weather came in, we had to let the hill set instead of doing construction over the winter months into the spring,” Klitzing said.
As the project progressed, Klitzing said he realized the contractor – Indianapolis-based Alderson Commercial Group – wasn’t as efficient as coordinating subcontractors as other companies CCPR has worked with, leading to several more months of delays.
“The timeliness of getting the work done has not met our expectations and is a big factor as to where we are today,” Klitzing said.
CCPR’s contract with Alderson does not include penalties for missed deadlines, Klitzing said, and despite the many delays, most aspects of the project remain on budget. Alderson was also the contractor for the recently renovated Meadowlark Park, which opened approximately three months behind schedule.
Current reached out to Alderson for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Klitzing said he is hopeful that West Park will reopen by mid-October. CCPR doesn’t expect to hold an event to officially celebrate the renovations until mid-2023, when it can begin to operate the splash pad, which includes a waterfall and a streamlike experience.
“The most spectacular part of the renovation project is the new splash pad,” Klitzing said. “It is a splash pad like none other I’ve ever seen anywhere.”
Learn more at carmelclayparks.com/parks/west-park.