Growing pains at new park

Sprinkler system to blame for field woes at Foskett
By: Brandon Darnell The News Messenger
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With patches of dirt broken only by spotted tufts of grass bordering swampy spots, the sports fields at the brand-new Foskett Regional Park leave much to be desired – and they have sparked a slew of complaints. In a letter to the Lincoln News Messenger dated Aug. 21, soccer coach Chris von Pohle expressed his frustration with the fields, writing that they were brown in some spots and over-watered in others. He also wrote that the sprinklers did not raise up high enough, keeping the water from reaching the areas it needs to. In another letter, dated Sept. 25, Cindy Prentice wrote that her family had to walk through “over-saturated grass to get to bone-dry dead grass” for her daughter to practice on. “The conditions of the fields have improved since I wrote my letter,” von Pohle said. “They’re doing things to make a difference.” Now, signs asking residents to keep off of the soccer fields are up as they are being reseeded in an effort to repair dead spots and improve the quality of the playing surface. No tournaments or games have been scheduled for the period from Oct. 6-17 to allow the grass to germinate and start growing. Ray Leftwich, senior civil engineer for the city of Lincoln, said, “Nobody has been yelling louder or longer than me.” Leftwich said public works department crews have been out testing the sprinkler system, but it takes a long time, as there are 250 control valves for the 45-acre site and manually checking them takes at least four minutes each. “To get everything back and growing where it should be will probably take until spring,” Leftwich said. There are two times in the year that are ideal for planting grass, he said. One is right now and the other time comes in early spring. Weather plays a big role in the success, which is why the work is being done now, so it will – hopefully— not have to be redone later. The problem with the watering comes from a variety of issues, Leftwich said, including grading, drainage, the settling of sprinkler heads into the grass and a few broken irrigation lines. In addition to that, there have been issues with disease on the turf. In some places the sprinkler heads have settled, reducing the area they cover, he explained. The contractor, Roebbelen Contracting, has been asked to come out and raise them up. “We’re addressing things; I would not say they’re being non-responsive,” Leftwich said “They have a responsibility to complete the project to design specifications. We’re holding them to that.” In an e-mail, Roebbelen Project Engineer Jaime Lee wrote that the “contract work was completed last fall, just prior to the first softball tournament.” She wrote that Roebbelen is currently completing punch list items and warranty work requests. She described them as “typical post-construction activities.” “Obviously, our desire on any project is to complete our work as quickly as possible and hand over a quality product to the owner,” she wrote. Roebbelen is working on fixing the warranty items, specifically broken valves, burst pipes and busted sprinklers, she said. Lee also wrote that the type of grass specified in the design is susceptible to fungus and insect infestations and is particularly hard to keep healthy in the summer months. Though the soil was graded per the design, Lee wrote, it might be necessary to modify the drainage design to help fix the current issues. The city has not yet accepted the contract, nor has it paid in full for the work done by Roebbelen, Leftwich said.