Causeway splash park on tap?

On Tuesday afternoon, crews from Wyman and Simpson, Inc. and R.J. Grondin and Sons began placing the rip-rap on the east side of the Chute River. On the foundation, which will include steel pilings, the Causeway Renovation Committee hopes to build in the future a bubbling waterfall to accompany the natural setting amphitheater and a splash park. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The waterways accessible from the Naples Causeway — Long Lake, Brandy Pond, the Songo River, and Big Sebago Lake have long lured people from neighboring New England states. The various license plates of parked vehicles and the foreign accents of visitors illustrate how far people travel to vacation in the “Heart of the Lake Region.”

Some community members here envision another draw: A historical-themed splash park located immediately south of the Bay of Naples Bridge.

The plans are sketched on paper by Richardson and Associates, a Saco-based firm that delves into landscaping design. The blueprints call for a children’s splash park that mimics a map of the region — complete with a miniature lock and a tiny swing bridge placed in a few feet of water. Causeway visitors could cool down, chill out, and get a history of the region through the interactive splash park. Two waterfalls would be installed, one on each side of the Chute River. The water, which would be recycled from the river, would run over the teeth of the gears of the old swing bridge. Those two pieces were preserved during the demolition process, and would be incorporated into the waterfalls.

This splash park concept is one that Naples elected officials and Causeway Renovation Committee (CRC) members would like for their town. In fact, the Naples Board of Selectmen voted unanimously in late July to accept Todd Richardson’s bid for a splash park.

The decision was to appropriate $3,500 from a Discretionary Fund to pay for the firm to work with Wyman and Simpson Inc., the general contractor awarded the state transportation department bid to build the concrete arch bridge and revamp the Causeway.

According to both CRC Chairman Bob Neault and Maine Department of Transportation Resident Engineer Craig Hurd, the construction crews were ahead of schedule in late July, and the town had to act quickly to take advantage of the timeframe to preserve the remaining foundation for the park plans.

But, the earth did not cooperate.

“One of the issues that is coming up, we have a design issue because we were not able to retrain the abutment wall because it was hollow in the middle,” Neault reported during a CRC meeting on Aug. 15.

According to Town Manger Derek Goodine who toured the site, “The old turnstile and the abutment — it wasn’t solid concrete” as was expected.

“It was gravel. They expected to find an abutment wall, and they found gravel,” Goodine explained during an Aug. 13 selectmen meeting.

But, that finding stopped neither the general contractor nor town officials from laying the tracks for prospective endeavors to create the ultimate lakeside green space.

Neault said, “The compromise is to stop at the bottom of the (channel between Long Lake and Brandy Pond) and apply rip rap. There would be a five-foot rip rap shelf. Then, they would drive piles to support what will be put in there as a waterfall.”

Richardson and Associates’ blueprints call for nine piles, or high beams, to support the waterfall structures, he said.

On Tuesday, a dump truck full of granite rock was on site as workers secured those rocks on the eastern bank of the Chute River closest to Brandy Pond. According to Neault, the cost of laying the foundation (rip-rap and pilings) for the waterfall as well as placing the loam and sod for the amphitheater would be between $15,000 and $20,000.

The amphitheater, the splash park and the two waterfalls are not part of the MDOT contract with the Town of Naples, according to Hurd.

According to Neault, “the actual construction would be under discussion later.”

On Monday, Neault said it was too soon to calculate the costs of providing the finishing touches to the green space amphitheater and water park.

He said acquiring corporate sponsorship would be the best avenue to cover the cost for construction. He did not know whether there would be multiple businesses sponsoring the future lure to the Causeway, and that depended on the final cost and the monetary donations. The corporation would get name recognition with signs or plaques displayed in that space.

What gave Richardson’s firm an edge was incorporating the rich history of the town, he said.

“He asked, ‘How do we bring the history of Naples to the park?’ (Todd Richardson) took a map of the Lake Region, and put it on the ground in miniature form,” Neault said.

“I see this as an opportunity for the citizens to get involved in the plans, in the details of the water park,” he said.


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