Installing drainage beneath and around a softball field is hardly what most envision when they hear of a park undergoing construction. However, it’s this unseen work funded by the Joint Facilities Committee that will make all the difference for those who regularly use the high school’s varsity softball field at Manhattan Park.
Nestled on the northeast side of the City, Manhattan Park is home to many activities and includes entryways to the rustic wooded trails, four volleyball courts, two adult softball fields, the girls varsity softball field, four soccer fields, two tennis courts and a playground. However, a drainage issue at the varsity softball field limited our Pioneers from participating on their home field due to flooding.
As the varsity softball field is positioned at the lowest point in the park, water from the soccer and adult softball fields would cascade to it, flood it and often leave the softball players to either compete on an extremely wet field or cancel the game altogether.
The City initially sought help from engineers to remedy the situation, however, when bids were received, the project came in nearly $33,000 over budget. While many would believe the City struck out on this project, Interim City Manager Doug LaFave and Parks & Recreation Director Fred Bunn took the initiative to find another solution. Joining forces, they took the project on internally by utilizing staff from each department, resulting in the City finding a plan for an underbudget solution and ensure better playing conditions for our varsity softball players.
After meeting with the City’s engineering consultant and solidifying a revised in-house budget just shy of $80,000, the project started in July and ran through the end of October. The two departments worked together to limit the flooding by installing drainage beneath and around the softball field that empties into the wooded area on the southern side of the park. Storm drains were also placed between home plate and third base, behind the fence and near the bleachers, to further prevent flooding.
Through their combined efforts, the City was able to complete the project under budget by more than $3,000 while securing even further improvements to the varsity softball field. The additions have improved the appropriate shedding of water from the infield surfaces, which is a vital component for the potential to play on rainy days.
“I am impressed with our crews for pushing their skills on a project we would have normally had to contract out for,” LaFave said. “I am thankful for such a hardworking and skilled team that was able to take on this challenge so our residents could continue using the park without worry of flooding.”
So far, with the amount of rain we have had this fall, the improvements are working as designed. LaFave and Bunn anticipate the varsity softball field will be much more playable during the spring season.
“This is an excellent example of the Joint Facilities committee funding projects to improve facilities within our community,” said Bunn. “As active a community as this one is, we knew how vital it was to find a solution even when it seemed out of reach based on the initial bids received.”