Low Lying Parks

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    Katherine Jacobs

    As in many cities, a lot of our park land is in low-lying, periodically flooded areas. This is great to the extent that when we have serious flooding, our mostly impervious parks can absorb a decent amount of the water.

    However, over the years these low-lying parks have been developed with amenities such as tennis courts and soccer fields that are very difficult to maintain in saturated conditions. Almost all of our tennis courts are cracked beyond repair (presumably from freeze/thaw heaving), and an increasing number of our fields can’t be used for their intended sports because they are frequently too wet to mow. 

    My question is twofold:
    1. On a site scale, what innovative, cost-effective best practices have you developed to handle drainage when building courts and/or fields in poorly drained areas?
    2. Has anyone else out there had to wrestle with this on a city-wide scale? These issues are likely to get worse in the coming decades as we face sea level rise and increasingly severe storms, and I’d like to be strategic about investing in facilities that will serve our community long term.


    Hi Katherine…..well, I have read that the “seas are rising” very little each year, but, barely enough that you can measure. IMO, the reports that the seas are rising at a rapid rate where you could measure those rises in FEET is just bogus.

    I don’t mean to politicalize your “rising seas” statement…but, as I recall, former President Obama was “all in” about Global Warming & Rising Seas. Which makes me wonder WHY would he and his wife purchase an $11 million estate on Martha’s Vineyard that is right on the Atlantic Ocean (I’ve seen photos of that home and property…the home’s finish floor elevation can’t be more than about 5 feet above Sea Level). And, the Obamas also bought (back in 2015) the Beach Front Home in Hawaii ($8 million) that was used in the filming of the TV show “Magnum P.I.”…that home is right down on the water. So, I guess what I’m saying is…..if the seas really are rising and the Obama’s believe that…..WHY would they spend millions of dollars on water front luxury homes?

    IMO, I’m not very convinced using city taxpayer money to build recreational amenities in flood zones or low lying areas is a great idea. The grading and drainage is just going to be a problem, eventually…and potentially do damage or destroy these amenities. But, I know, this is done in many, many cities throughout the Nation…so, what do I know???

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