MILTON — The Carpenter's Park splash pad project — part of former mayor Wesley Meiss's campaign — was on the agenda for the new council in the first meeting of the new year. While the project is reportedly moving forward, costs have increased.

At the Jan. 2 city council meeting, city manager Randy Jorgenson gave a report on phase one of the project.

Survey work, wetland delineation, code review, preliminary layout and cost analysis of the water feature and drafting of the final layout, Jorgenson said, are complete. He said the Santa Rosa County Department of Transportation crosswalk for Munson Highway would be complete Jan. 7. 

However, Jorgenson said certain factors, including Hurricane Michael's impact on the Gulf Coast, have increased project costs by $100,000. The project is now estimated to cost $600,000. 

“I am not surprised by the escalation,” he said. 

Jorgenson said staff has been able to scale down the cost to this amount by using the city’s maintenance budget for the work on the parking area at the park. Jorgenson also said this final cost could be less as it does not include funding that could come from the county and other grants.

Councilman Jeff Snow thanked Jorgenson for, “sharpening (his) pencil and making this more cost efficient.”

Councilman George Jordan said, “this is going to be a flagship project and it is going to be a good looking project.”

Councilwoman Shannon Rice expressed concern over trees planted at the park through grant funding. She said the council could talk to to forester Vernon Compton to see if the trees could be saved.

Jorgenson said city staff could meet with Compton, but staff has not yet determined what trees may be removed as part of the project.