Local CP&R planning drainage redesigns for Heritage Park fields, other areas | CullmanSense

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CP&R planning drainage redesigns for Heritage Park fields, other areas

Shown is a current topographical map of the large soccer field at Heritage Park, showing what Cullman Parks and Recreation discovered: "We pulled our records from the early 90s and we were surprised to see that the sites were graded for two large championship fields with two crowns and the center being a low drainage site for the two fields,” said CP&R Executive Director Nathan Anderson....

"Rock the South’s setup, their delay tower, heavy equipment and foot traffic (were) in an area that was a drain site for the two large fields on each end." / CP&R

CULLMAN - It’s been five months since Rock the South was held at Heritage Park, where the combination of the crowds, heavy equipment, rain and the drainage design of the soccer fields led to a lot of damage to the playing surfaces.

The damage that was done to the fields caused Cullman Parks and Recreation (CP&R) to begin to look not only into repairs, but also what steps it could take to better maintain the fields in the future. CP&R Executive Director Nathan Anderson has been working on a plan for the fields and the park’s drainage system after looking into the park’s original designs. Anderson said he's happy that this research has actually shed light on a need to redesign the fields for the amount of people who use it today.

“Following Rock the South this year and the damage that we experienced on the fields due to the rain and the heavy traffic, it caused us to look at our topography of the fields as they are today and compare it to the topography of the original design. We pulled our records from the early 90s and we were surprised to see that the sites were graded for two large championship fields with two crowns and the center being a low drainage site for the two fields,” Anderson said. “What that means is we play with our AYSO (Alabama Youth Soccer Organization) soccer league (on) two large fields in an area of the field that is a wetland; it’s a drain site. Considering Rock the South’s setup, their delay tower, heavy equipment and foot traffic (were) in an area that was a drain site for the two large fields on each end. The two areas that were graded to be playing sites were actually resilient during the event. They were the sites that bounced back quickest and the sites we got the least complaints about. So, this event, the rain event and the damage experienced during Rock the South, has actually spotlighted a big need that we have to re-grade the fields completely.”

Anderson and his team have been working with engineers on a plan for how they want to update the fields and make them more resilient to this kind of damage in the future.

“We are working with the civil engineers at St. John and Associates on a redesign of these fields. We are looking at raising the center of this field up over a foot and a half. We will have all the drainage of the field going to the perimeters of this large field; nothing will drain into the interior of the field,” said Anderson. “So during a larger festival or when we have larger crowds on these fields, they will be far more resilient if we have another rain event like we had this past year. As far as playing soccer, the design will make (the fields) easier to play on in light rain situations and in a heavy rain situation they’ll drain much quicker and get the players back on the field faster. So this is something that really revealed to us that we need to redo these fields. We are currently going through design work and engineering work to redesign these large fields.”

Anderson said he’s also taking this opportunity to address other drainage issues in the park around walking trails and other fields.

“We also have other drainage issues. If you’re familiar with the park then you are well aware of issues with drainage all over this park like around the back of Field 3, in the nature trail area around the gardens. On the west side of some of the soccer fields, we have trail erosion and all of that is poor drainage, so between now and the time we address these soccer fields, we’ll be working on these drainage issues because we can force the water off the fields but something has to happen to the water when its off the field so we will fix those areas first and be ready with a game plan the minute the season is friendly and conducive to grass growth.”

Anderson said he is optimistic that CP&R can get started with the redesign next summer when it will be much easier to plant and grow grass quickly on the fields. He said he’s confident that these changes will improve the park for the long term and make it better suited for all types of events, whether it’s a festival or youth sports.

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