The city should be proud of the water feature at Martin Luther King Park, and cracks in the concrete will not affect how it functions, according to a key supplier on the project.
The $4.5 million basin at the park opened for the first time last summer, became a reflecting pool in the fall and Sunday opened as an ice skating rink.
In May, the city stressed the “super crack resistant” nature of the concrete used in the reconstruction. However, The Buffalo News reported in December that the basin had developed at least one narrow crack at least 12 feet long.
The fact that there weren’t cracks during the first year the concrete had been poured was more surprising than seeing cracks now, said Daniel T. Biddle, vice president of sales for Forta Corp.
“There are, and will be, more cracks,” said Biddle, whose company supplied fibers that reinforced the concrete. “A few tight cracks are much better than five-and-a-half miles of planned cracks, control joints.”
The cracks shouldn’t be seen as red flags or indicative of a structural problem with the basin, said Biddle.
“We remain convinced that the slab process and result at MLK are quite remarkable and that participants were indeed good stewards of taxpayer dollars to create such a valuable and usable end project,” Biddle said.
The cracks will likely be investigated in the spring and filled, Biddle said.
The project had originally called for much smaller panels, which are closer together but less visually appealing and more expensive. Using fibers to reinforce the concrete offered the opportunity to use larger panels with fewer joints, Biddle said.
Forta had declined to discuss the project and the crack for the News’ story Dec. 17.
The project had many challenges, including the sloping nature of the basin, seagulls that landed on the wet concrete and left footprints, extreme hot and cold temperatures that affect the way concrete cures, the sheer size of the basin – five acres is a lot of concrete – and water lines below the surface that supply jets for the splash pad, Biddle said.