In recent months, Andy Dorian’s attention has been on the acres of flood buyout property that the Hannibal Parks Department is inheriting. But that doesn’t mean the director of the Parks and Recreation Department has forgotten the city’s existing parks.
That point was driven home last month when Dorian got permission from the City Council to spend up to $27,000 on an engineering agreement whose focus will be Huckleberry Park’s softball field and the area around it.
“It’s an old facility. It’s been around for a long time. It’s the only lighted softball field in town and it hasn’t had a lot of money thrown at it in a long time,” said Dorian.
In addition to the funds designated for the engineering, Dorian has in this year’s fiscal budget $25,000 for field improvements and another $10,000 set aside for general upgrades.
One of the major points of emphasis will be improving the playing surface, which is regularly rutted by runoff during heavy rains.
“Water comes storming off that hill on big rains, or even normal sized rains, and tears through the field and creates trench issues which is a maintenance nightmare. It’s unsafe for the players as anyone who has played out there knows,” said Dorian, noting that a few years ago French drains were installed when the field was plagued by water seepage problems.
Just outside the field, asphalt will be replaced to make the area more fan friendly.
“It’s starting to buckle and is not safe. It’s become a trip hazard,” said Dorian.
Pavement will be extended to in front of the concession stand, where barbecue grills will be installed along with picnic tables with umbrellas.
“It will be a big upgrade out there,” said Dorian.
Despite inheriting a good deal of space, Dorian has not flirted with notion of abandoning the Huckleberry Park ball field in favor of a site not located at the bottom of a hill.
“It’s got a nice parking lot, concession stand and shed. It’s perfectly suited to be where it’s at. Ideally you wouldn’t have a field at the bottom of a hill, but we have no choice on that one. To relocate all the fencing and lighting would be very, very expensive,” he said.
Dorian views the Huckleberry Park field as a continuation of one of his primary objectives.
“When I started here as director I said I wanted to take a lot of what we had and started upgrading it,” he said. “We’ve done that with the armory. The sand volleyball courts, where we took an old facility and made it new, have been a big hit. It’s the same way with this. We need to take our old stuff and start doing some upgrades.
Page 2 of 2 - “We have beautiful facilities, but some of the things have been there since maybe the ‘70s and haven’t had anything done to them. Everything has a life span. We’re going to start phasing some of the older things out and making them new.”