When Disaster Strikes

By John Kmitta

In the fall of 2018, The City of Parkville, Mo., completed improvements to Grigsby Field, one of the city’s baseball fields, thanks to support from Engaged Companies, a local business sponsor and supporter of youth baseball that invested nearly $20,000 in new infield material, a new pitcher’s mound, laser grading and removing the lip buildup between the infield/outfield edge with new sod. 

“Sadly no one had a chance to take advantage of the hard work and the new and improved field,” said Tom Barnard, superintendent parks, City of Parkville.

Nobody had a chance to play on the new field because, prior to the start of the 2019 season, disaster struck. 

According to Barnard, large amounts of snow fell in mid-March in the northern states along the Missouri River. This was followed by a string of warm-weather days. 

“With the ground being frozen, large amounts of runoff were going into the tributaries and into the Missouri causing major flooding along the flood plains,” said Barnard.

In Parkville, the flooding carried heavy debris (predominantly corn stalks from neighboring farmland), toppling and even ripping out fence lines at their ball fields and dog park, washing out trails, and wiping out a large amount of electrical infrastructure, Barnard added. 

“An extensive amount of river silt was deposited during this flood,” he said. “With the lack of public activity with the park being closed, beavers began taking over, damaging or destroying many trees.”

When the waters receded, cleanup efforts began, but the river came back with a vengeance and Parkville was flooded again beginning in mid-June.

Luckily, Barnard and his staff had enough advance warning to get their equipment to higher ground.

Recovering… and rebuilding

Barnard said the biggest challenge so far has been the large amounts of silt deposited throughout the park.

“Trucking it off premises is a large monetary expense and a time-consuming commitment,” said Barnard. “Silt was transported to low-lying areas that were close and within the park system, primarily where future ball field development will occur. Dozers, excavators, track loaders and dump trucks were needed to remove the silt. Weed eradication, debris removal, re-grading and disking the silt into topsoil – throughout the 200-acre park system – were necessary details that allowed us to begin seeding while the window of opportunity existed for fall reestablishment to complement the opening of the park in the spring.”    

Thankfully, Parkville’s efforts to rebuild are being aided by a generous donation from Royals Charities. As part of the Royalty Fields Program, Royals Charities and Price Chopper donated $25,000 for ball field improvements. 

Barnard was excited about the donation, as it allowed the City of Parkville to address improvements that were beyond preexisting conditions prior to the flooding. Improvements include an updated interface and LED lighting that will be added to the existing scoreboard, dugouts for the T-ball field where there were none, and a totally revamped bullpen for Grigsby Field.

“When we build or add amenities to the park, we discuss at great length what we can do to minimize impact when the next flood does occurs – not if – but when,” said Barnard. “Can we build something a foot or two higher? Getting electrical components/breakers out of boxes, removing electrical RV pedestals that are needed for events, and putting GFCI outlets as high as possible are areas that we addressed.”

Project completion is slated for early 2020, with a grand opening event planned for spring to unveil the improvements.