Friday, April 5, 2013

Keefer Park is out of commission

Hailey could raise parks fees for maintenance costs

Express Staff Writer

Landscaping crews work to dethatch Keefer Park in Hailey on Monday. The park is now closed, allegedly due to a design flaw in its construction. Photo by Roland Lane

After four years of use, the soccer field in Keefer Park in the Woodside subdivision of Hailey is showing signs of wear. As a result, it will be closed until at least May 1. 

Keefer Park took two years to build and was funded by grants and in-lieu fees from developers and other development partnerships, with an approximate 50 percent contribution from tax dollars. 

The nine-acre park, opened in 2008, includes basketball courts, a regulation soccer field, restrooms, a picnic pavilion, a ball field and a trailhead to the popular Toe of the Hill Trail.

The City Council discussed Monday the possibility of diverting sports teams to use the broad expanses of grass at parks next to the Balmoral apartments. Those include the Sawtooth United soccer teams, which begin practicing this month.

“There are ways to fix it [the soccer field], but it takes money and staff hours,” said Parks and Lands Board Commissioner Kathy Noble.

Noble, who is a landscape architect, said the poor condition of Keefer Park is due to a “design flaw” in its construction. She said a layer of sand 10 inches thick that was laid under the grass has starved the turf. 

“It doesn’t hold water and the grass dies by spring,” she said.

Noble said irrigation problems have also arisen, due to the complexity of the sprinkler system installed at the park. She said the Hailey Parks and Lands Board is applying compost four times each year in an effort to rehabilitate the park.

“It is going to take a number of years. That’s how nature works,” she said.

The worn condition of Keefer Park is one reason that the Hailey City Council is considering raising seasonal use fees to better cover the cost of city park maintenance. Hailey charges teams using fields at Keefer Park a seasonal fee of $100. In comparison, Ketchum teams can be charged that much for one day of game field use.

“The user fees have to cover maintenance costs,” Councilman Don Keirn said.

Noble said the city has to begin keeping track of who uses which parks, and when, in order to develop a plan for parks maintenance. 

“We need the beginnings of a recreation district,” Mayor Fritz Haemmerle said.

City staff was instructed to write a new schedule for parks use fees for City Council review at a later date. 

Tony Evans:

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