The “splash pad” at newly renovated Andersen Park is working improperly, causing water to overflow onto the sidewalk and parkway.

Due to a design flaw that allows runoff to spill out of the splash pad, water continually flows from the park, creating a large, soggy, muddy area between the splash pad and the street that has caused neighbors to voice concerns about health and safety.

Additionally, the circuit board that allowed the water in the splash pad to be turned on incrementally for two to three minutes at a time was damaged by water, possibly from the splash pad’s own runoff.

As a result, the park district manually turns the water on and off every day, leaving the water flowing regardless of whether the park is occupied.

“If you were to walk across the parkway,” neighbor Joan Koren said, “your feet would get soaking wet.”

The park district’s contractor for Andersen, Kovilic Construction, says it has just received a replacement circuit board, and will re-install it in an aboveground weatherproof cabinet to prevent further damage.

Wayne Gardner, Kovilic’s project manager for Andersen, says the firm is also planning on installing a new drain on the problem side of the splash pad “if not this week, then the next.”

Combined with the splash pad not being unnecessarily on all the time, “the additional drain will totally cure the [drainage] problem,” Gardner said.

All the new work on Anderson will be done at Kovilic’s expense, at no cost to Oak Parkers, said Mike Grandy, park district superintendent of building and grounds.

“The project is under warranty,” Grandy said, “so the contractor is on the hook.”

When the pad was installed last fall, “everything worked,” according to Grandy.

However, when the splash pad was first turned on again for the summer about three weeks ago, Grandy said the pipe that brought water to the pad was leaky.

Instead of replacing the existing water line, which would have required tearing out cement and plantings, Kovilic built a new line.

When Kovilic replaced the sod after installing the new line, it didn’t fit as well as it originally did. As a result, water seeped into the underground vault where the circuit board was kept.

Water, probably mostly overflow from the splash pad, eventually short-circuited the board.

With the timing mechanism out of order, the splash pad needed to be manually turned on and off-a task made simpler by turning the pad on at the beginning of each day and off at the end.

The continuous overflow of water that resulted is what upset locals. Koren, who lives across the street, worried with her neighbors about the environmental impact of the “constant running of unrecycled water 10-12 hours a day,” and of the health hazards of having large pools of standing water with mosquito season approaching.

Grandy, however, is optimistic about the park’s future.

“[Kovilic] has done a very nice job on the product, and they’re standing behind it,” he said. “It’s my understanding that in the next couple of days this thing will be straightened out.”

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Ben Meyerson

Ben was Wednesday Journal's crime, parks, and River Forest reporter, until he kept bugging us enough to promote him. Now he's managing two of Wednesday Journal's sister papers in the city, Chicago Journal...