By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The COVID-19 pandemic may have shut down the tournaments that the Grayson Sports Park hoped to host if they had gotten to open this spring as originally planned, but it hasn’t stopped construction work on the park or park manager Grant Harper’s work to get the park ready for next year. The park board met last Thursday to discuss progress on the park, including utility right-of-ways, drainage pumps and plumbing, electrical work, and other finishing tasks to be done on fields and park buildings.
Harper discussed the utility right-of-way at the opening of the meeting, noting that it was planned to be at least ten feet back from the park’s outside boundary. The outfield fence on the ball fields would be another 65 feet back from the utility right-of-way, he explained. The parks agreement on the boundary noted that a fence would be placed right on the outside border between the park and neighboring properties, with a privacy screen beyond that and no structures permitted within 50 feet of the fence. The board also discussed pumps to be used to handle drainage issues in the park, and differences between the pumps called for in the initial park plans and the pumps that will be used in lieu of those original pumps. The board noted there was no significant difference in functionality and that two pumps would be used alternately, to reduce wear-and-tear on the pumps and to help extend their individual life-spans, as well as to have an extra in reserve in case one of the pumps did fail.
Park Board President Mindy Woods-Click discussed the parks budget, informing them that the park currently had $1.7 million in the account for the sports park. There had been an issue with some checks being released early, before tax collection had been taken in and deposited, which resulted in the account being overdrawn for a very short period of time. That issue has been rectified, however, and safeguards put in place to assure it won’t happen again. Board member Mark Strother also told the board that steps had been taken to reverse penalties on the account for the inadvertent overdraft.
In other park progress Harper reported that Allard Excavation was continuing with “small leveling” around dugouts. He said the leveling being done in that area was “small, but tedious,” because it has to be done by hand since equipment can’t get into the area. But, he said, the park was nearly to grade.
He also reported that J&K Electrical have a connection to finish, and once that was complete wiring of buildings and lighting could be completed. Then they would be “nearly done” with construction on the park.
Plumbers have placed fixtures in the small buildings, including one of the concession buildings. They still have one concession building and one maintenance building to finish plumbing.
All block work is complete on concession building number two, he noted, and next steps are to paint the building exterior and put the ceiling on the building. After that cabinets and other interior work could be completed. Cabinets have been placed in concession building number one, and counter tops and cabinets will be placed in concession building number two once the ceiling is on.
Harper also reported that fence posts are in for the dug outs, and they plan to have the out field posts up by the end of this month.
“It might trickle into August,” Harper said, and interior work still needs to be completed on various buildings, but all exterior work has been done.
His next steps will be to sow grass seed where he can, but there are some areas where he doesn’t want to sow grass until all the irrigation equipment – which is now partially installed – has been installed completely. He explained that dirt in the outfield is “so sandy” it won’t hold water, so it will need irrigation. The areas that are not currently seeded, or that have sparse grass, will be reseeded in the fall. Harper said that it is currently, “so hot,” and the field without available water, that any grass that took now would simply “burn up” before fall. After the weather cools and grows wetter he would seed again and fertilize existing grass.
Harper also said that, rather than a zero turn mower, at this time he would be requesting a small tractor with a belly mower as his first equipment purchase. That would allow them to mow the grass on the fields as well as pull trailers and perform other tasks.
In August, he said, they would put more gravel on the road, but that it would be limited. If the park waits until next spring for their final graveling, they will lose less gravel to the freeze/thaw cycle over winter. He said that he is also looking at concrete pull in and pull out areas, to further conserve gravel. He said that the pull in and pull out areas could be done mostly with the gravel originally intended for curbing around an island area that he didn’t feel was necessary at this time. The concrete pull in and pull out areas near the street would only lead to an approximate additional $5,000 in concrete costs, Harper estimated.
The board had questions about keeping traffic from cutting through the park and keeping vehicles off the grass. Harper said that gates could be used to keep traffic from using the park as a drive-through area, or to keep it from being used as a drop-off point for the middle school. As for ATV traffic, he said fences around the playing fields should be sufficient to keep ATVs off the playing surface grass. With curbs, he said, they should be able to keep most other vehicle traffic out, but there is nothing that they can do to keep foot traffic out.
Former Grayson city councilman and park board member Duane Suttles said that traffic lights at the ambulance end of the park wouldn’t be necessary. While a traffic light may be needed on the front end of the road eventually, Suttles said, it wouldn’t be necessary for the ambulance end.
“This is why they have lights and sirens,” Suttles said.
They will have to address the helipad again eventually, Suttles said, because they can’t have any vehicles parked near the helicopter.
Woods-Click said that paperwork with AEP has been signed, and they should be coming out soon to turn power on. She also noted that she talked with AEP about KY Power Economic Growth Grants. These are rolling grants with no deadline. She said they going to address the grants from an economic growth perspective. While the park will not be creating any more jobs directly, it will impact other businesses in both the Grayson and surrounding communities.
“AEP felt positive we would get something,” Harper added.
He said the park has also discussed other grant opportunities with FIVCO.
New city councilman and park board representative for the city Jerry Yates said he had been contacted about weeds on the park lot, and around buildings like the field office.
“I understand. I do construction,” Yates said. But, he added, because of the city’s weed ordinance, he has been getting push back from constituents who want the park property to be more maintained while construction is ongoing.
Harper said he was already talking with someone about weed eating around the park.
Harper also said he is “exploring options” for office space once the park is finished. He is also talking with different companies about equipment for the park’s spray ground play area, park playground equipment, and coverings for the amphitheater. He said a seasonal fabric covering or canopy would likely be the most economical route for the amphitheater. While it would not be rated for a snow load, and would have to be taken down in the winter, it was rated for wind and would be about half the price of a hard or solid cover. He said he was also looking at pricing for different tiers of spray ground and playground equipment.
While the spray ground is unlikely to open until next year, Woods-Click said the community, “would like to see some playground equipment this fall.”
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