Bob Brilley II is correct.
“Sometimes, in life, good things are worth waiting for,” park board President Brilley said during an interview with the Herald & Review's Allison Petty.
The board last week voted to delay their target opening date for a new Nelson Park water park a year, to 2019.
As is understandably the case with every person who was looking forward to the new park, we’re disappointed in the delay. We want to understand what's dazzling about the slides as much as you do.
But we’d be considerably more disappointed if taxpayer money was misspent. This is a prudent, logical decision, as saddening as it is.
The water park will be one of the pieces in the district’s Overlook Adventure Park. This week, the board decided to delay the project, originally planned to open in summer 2017.
The Park District has historically generally done an excellent job being responsible with money. They work to avoid being a heavy-taxing entity. While the water park was being discussed, they made certain they were clear about the spending cap for the work.
When bids are being let, it's difficult to know what to expect. You can budget all you wish, but it's going to be the contractors who ultimately tell you what the cost is. They're the ones doing the work to the specifications of plans. The lowest bid the district received was $1.5 million over the $9.2 million budget the board planned. Also, each bid included the news that the construction would take longer than the board planned.
Additionally, park district Executive Director Bill Clevenger said Counsilman-Hunsaker, a St. Louis firm that designed the pools for the water park, has not yet received approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health to start work.
So all signs pointed to an inevitable delay, including the absence of work at the site. Fairview Park's pool, which was to be closed when the water park opened, remains open for one more year.
The recent news from Nelson Park has been a series of disappointments, with the water park decision adding to the closing of two of the park's restaurants. The district should have been more ahead of the game than this. As responsible as the board is tending to financials, they also have the unfortunate tendency toward most optimistic possible outcome. That sometimes leads to disappointment, as it has this time.
But the district also promises it's on the lookout for new tenants for the restaurants. They should be primed for success, given what's already at the park and then considering what's to come.
What about the water park? Adjustments to the plan will be made, but it's still coming. The board is simply sticking to its budget. They've said they may cut the number of slides, although they also consider the slides one of the park's major attractions.
The decision is not a disaster. It's merely a delay.