News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 13, 2012

Weather delays playground opening: Prairie Creek Park should be finished within 30 days

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

Vigo County — Weather and unforeseen soil conditions have pushed back a scheduled grand opening ceremony of a new Prairie Creek Park playground until the spring.

The park had originally been scheduled to open today.

However, the park area is expected to be open for public use within 30 days, said Kara Kish, assistant superintendent of the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department.

“The project has been plagued by inclement weather and has set our time frame back almost a month,” Kish said.

The project is installing a new playground, swing sets, tennis court, basketball court, parking area and shelters. One unforeseen problem was clay soil, which slowed the installation of the tennis court.

“We had to backfill some of the clay soil that was heavily saturated,” Kish said.

The clay soil retained water and would not support the court. Park officials consulted with Eddie Adams of the USDA’s Soil and Conservation Service on how much soil to remove and what to use as backfill. Adams is also a member of the Vigo County Park Board.

The initial project was to cost $85,000; however, the unforeseen soil problem increased costs of the project about 15 percent. That is still within the park department’s annual amenities improvement budget allocation, Kish added.

The main problem for the park’s time schedule was weather.

“It tended to rain on the week and stop on the weekends and we work during the week,” Kish said.

Kish said replacing soil, even though it caused a delay, was a quick task for the tennis court. The weather, however, was not as cooperative.

“We had expected to complete our tennis court in two weeks. It took us five weeks because we just couldn’t pour until the ground was dry enough. Then once the ground was dry enough, we had to have a couple of days for a window where we could pour” concrete, Kish said.

Another obstacle was available workers.

The project had been expected to be completed before Pioneer Days, an event at Fowler Park. Workers had to stop for a week to prepare for that event. Next week park employees will participate in Mini Pioneer Days, another setback of about a week, Kish said.

“Out of 30 days last month that we were trying to work, we got to really work maybe 10 or 15 days,” Kish said. “The weather brought buckets of rain coming down, or it would come down the day before you wanted to work but the ground was completely saturated,” she said. “It just pushed us back so far and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Kish said the overall park project is about 75 percent complete.

Yet there’s still plenty to do in the next month. The “to-do list” includes:

• Constructing the shelter and covered picnic tables.

• Adding safety surfacing to the playground and swing set areas.

• Finishing the parking lot area. Stone is down, but it needs to be rolled. Parking stops need to be added.

•  Applying asphalt sealant to basketball court. Tennis court needs to have a professional surface coating applied.

n Putting down a trail around the site.

“It is a lot to do but [park employees] are accomplishing a lot every day,” Kish said.

Currently, the project area is sectioned off with caution tape and closed for public use. “The public will be invited out as soon as it is completed, but we are going to wait until spring to do a grand opening,” Kish said.

Next year the park department will take on several smaller park projects, Kish said, instead of one big project. In 2011, the park department completed three sites — the George and Ida Smith Park in Prairieton, a small playground in Fowler Park and a small playground in a campground at Prairie Creek Park.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.