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Park and Rec Board OKs funds for water slide repair, donation for new trail bridge

By Bob Steenson,

The Charles City Park and Recreation Board will spend more than $73,000 to repair the water slide at the city swimming pool at Lions Field, after board members agreed to move funds from other projects.

Park and Recreation Department Director Tyler Mitchell said a regular annual inspection of the slide last week found rust and corrosion on the support structure for the slide and he decided to close it from use by the public.

Mitchell got bids to fix the slide and recommended going with Fischer Bros. LLC of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, a water slide restoration company.

The bid, for $73,175, will include building a new support structure out of galvanized steel to reduce future rust issues. The fiberglass slide will be removed and transported to the company’s facility in Wisconsin where it will get a new gel-coat interior finish and be repainted.

Mitchell said the repairs are expected to last 25 years or more “with minimal maintenance.”

The long-term repairs will be done after the end of this swimming season and before next summer.

In the meantime, L&J Industries in Charles City is going to secure the structure to make it safe to use for the rest of this swimming season, but there have been problems getting access to the tall structure to work on it, Mitchell said.

Board members said it’s important to get the slide open, because it is one of the major attractions at the pool. Mitchell said he is looking for a company with a lift or a cherry picker truck that is available and that can get into the area by the pool.

The city Fire Department’s aerial equipment can’t get back in there, he said.

The challenge for the board at its meeting Wednesday evening was to come up with the funding for the long-term repairs.

The board agreed to use $23,000 that had been planned to upgrade the lights to LED bulbs at a Sportsmen’s Park Little League Diamond, along with $10,000 slated for repairs at the city skate park at Lions Field.

Mitchell said the department’s plan had been to start converting one city ball diamond per year to the LED lights, but that can be put off a year.

The department will get the rest of the money from the annual city hotel-motel tax receipts that go to the board, which is about $52,000 this year.

Board members questioned whether it would have been worth it to invest another $10,000 in the skate park, which is currently in poor condition.

“We’ve got to figure out what we’re doing with that skate park,” Mitchell said. “Are we tearing it down? Are we rebuilding it? Because the way it looks now it’s not good.”

“It’s not safe,” said board member Dennis Petersen.

“We can’t really leave something up that’s not safe,” Mitchell said.

Board member Jeff Otto said he had seen the skate park in Osage that is made of metal and is much simpler than the Charles City park, and Mitchell said he would investigate some options.

Mitchell said his staff could probably tear down the wooden equipment that is there now.

The Park and Rec Board also made a decision on helping the city fund the replacement of the Charley Western Trail bridge, that collapsed into the Cedar River last year as it was being taken down several months after having been closed because of safety issues.

The board had originally discussed donated $50,000 from the hotel-motel tax receipts toward the bridge.

Mayor Dean Andrews told the board it could consider splitting that donation up over a couple of years if it needed the money this year to repair the water slide, but the board decided it had enough reserve funds in that account to cover the cost.

The board agreed to pay a total of $100,000 toward the trail bridge replacement cost, which has been estimated to be about $1.2 million and is expected to be constructed next year.

The board approved paying $50,000 this year and then $10,000 a year for five more years. The Park and Recreation Board is the technically the owner of the Charley Western Trail through the city.

Andrews said the more the city can get for the new bridge up front from donations and grants, the less it will need to raise through selling bonds.