City, school district weigh ballfield upgrades

At a meeting Monday, Iola council members plan to discuss ballfields and floor tiles at Riverside Park in relation to flooding. USD 257 officials want to know if it's possible to upgrade ballfields prone to flooding.

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Local News

May 23, 2024 - 2:39 PM

Ballfields at Riverside Park are prone to flooding. The City of Iola and USD 257 are discussing possible renovations that would add artificial turf and address flooding. Register file photo

Updates to ballfields at Riverside Park could be on the horizon if Iola council members give their approval at Tuesday’s meeting. On the table is a proposed contract for services from Mammoth Sports Construction of Meriden to install artificial turf. 

Also on the agenda is the news that the purported “flood-proof” tiles in the Community Recreation Building are being replaced because of “moisture” issues caused by heavy rains in April that flooded the building.

Many of the tiles developed “bubbles,” according to Assistant City Administrator Corey Schinstock. “Not all were damaged, but they will all be replaced,” Schinstock said Thursday afternoon. 

He did not have a cost for the project. The building has been closed to the public since April 28.

As to the ballfields, Mayor Steve French formed a committee in August to discuss their fate. After the second meeting, the committee invited the local school district to participate.

Ballfield No. 2 is where the Iola High School girls’ softball team plays, while ballfield No. 3 is used by the IHS boys.

USD 257 officials favor the artificial turf. City staff’s concerns have been with potential flooding of the fields. 

A levee that was put in place in the 1930s to protect Riverside Park from the flooding of the Neosho River creates a bowl-effect in the park. For the most part the levee has been effective in keeping the river water out of the park, but traps that which falls inside. After last month’s downpour, both of the fields under consideration were under water. 

A study by Burns and McDonnell in March determined artificial turf could be installed. The engineering firm also recommended flood mitigation efforts such as re-grading the south portion of the park, installing new storm drains and three additional pumps. The park currently has two stationary pump systems and a slew of portable pumps.

The engineers said flooding would be addressed by pumping water over the levee as the flooding occurs. This is the current method used to address flooding there.

Prior to installing the artificial turf, Mammoth said it would perform an analysis of the site to better understand its flooding issues. 

They also said the new surface would assist in the mitigation of the flooding by acting as detention basins and having the ability to hold water and release it at a controlled rate.

Phase one of the contract — the engineering portion — comes at no cost to the city and is expected to be completed two weeks after contract approval. 

Phase two will include design and pre-construction services at a cost of $30,000 and would be completed eight to 10 weeks from completion of phase one. 

The final phase cost will be determined per the outcome of phases one and two. This phase would be established with the approval of a separate agreement.

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