Green fields ahead for Kyle Parks

By Moses Leos III

The grass is becoming much greener for the City of Kyle Parks and Recreation Department as it nears completion of its Parks Improvement Project. 

Despite struggles to germinate grass at several fields, the PARD’s initiative to improve the city’s four major parks is nearing 95 percent completion, according to director Kerry Urbanowicz. 

The project, totaling $390,000, encompassed several improvements. Those included adding shaded and covered pavilions, and improving softball and baseball fields at several of the city’s parks. 

One of the primary focuses was improving soccer and football fields, something advocated by Mayor Todd Webster when he took office in June 2014. 

Fields at Steeplechase and Gregg-Clarke Park were “scraped and contoured,” according to Urbanowicz. The move was done to accommodate irrigation systems and new turf for the fields. 

But several factors have caused slight setbacks with the improvement to the soccer and football fields.

One issue seen at Steeplechase Park was the use of the soccer field prior to the city opening it for use. Players hopping fences and playing on the field in April caused damage to the turf and irrigation systems. 

But the recent heavy rains have taken the heaviest toll on the parks. 

With the city going through the “wettest six months of all time,” Urbanowicz said seeds planted in the football fields at Steeplechase and Gregg-Clarke Parks struggled to germinate. Adding to the issues are seeds getting washed away, forcing the city to replant grass seed at the fields. 

According to Urbanowicz, the city received between 14 and 20 inches of rain, setting the record for the most rainfall in a six-month period. 

 “There was nothing for the grass to hold on to when the floods came,” Urbanowicz said.

The result was “rotten seeds,” Urbanowicz said, with seeds not getting enough sunshine and too much water. 

“Had we known this was going to be the wettest six-months, we would have seeded it differently,” Urbanowicz said. He explained that the use of a top dressing, such as sprinkling sand on top of the seeds, could have mitigated possible issues.

Currently, the field at Steeplechase Park is ready for use, while the field at Gregg-Clarke is nearing completion. 

For Urbanowicz, the move to improve city parks was done “for the community.” It was also to meet the parks needs of a growing city.  

Attendance has gone “way up” at city parks in 2015, according to Urbanowicz, who attributed the influx to the growing city’s population.

But with the influx of growth comes challenges. With more use comes limited space for groups and teams to use. Urbanowicz said some groups have resorted to using undeveloped parkland, such as the fields near Seton Medical Center Hays, for their events. 

“People are using every bare piece of ground to have baseball and football practice,” he said. “They’re using places that are (city parkland), but not city parks.” 

The city now eyes possibly expanding its parks system even further. Urbanowicz said the city has a Parks Master Plan and is working “diligently to meet goals set in that plan.” 

That could involve developing parkland that the city has set aside in several areas across town, something the city could improve in the next three to five years. 

Within the next 15 years, Urbanowicz estimates the city having roughly 300 acres of developed parkland. In addition, the city could also have roughly 10 to 15 miles of improved nature trails. 

Possible movement could also be made on the proposed 46-acre Kyle Vista Park and Recreation Center, which is to be located near the northwest intersection of Dacy Lane. 

But as the city plans for the future, they continue to plan for improving its current city parks.

“Let’s improve the (parks) we have, and think about how we can plan for and build future ones,” Urbanowicz said. 

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