Some areas won't be touched until end of month

As the Mississippi River continues to recede in Hannibal the cleanup of city-owned properties is underway. Aron Lee, the city's assistant director of central services - parks division, said the work will take longer than some might like.

"This time of year is our peak season and has spread us pretty thin," he said after Thursday night's meeting of the Hannibal Park Board. "We are trying to tackle things as efficiently as we can with the staff that we have."

At the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center, where water was an estimated 5 feet deep during the most recent flood crest, the cleanup process started Monday, May 13. But instead of calling on all his maintenance personnel, Lee has been forced to leave the chore in the hands of two part-time employees.

"They have done a tremendous job," he said. "The bulk of the main cleanup was done with a power washer to remove all the mud from the building. Now they are doing a final cleaning to disinfect everything and get it ready for operation."

Lee expects that the facility will be ready for public use by the week of May 27.

At nearby Clemens Field, Hannibal Hoots personnel have been hard at work, too.

"We have given them fire hoses and other equipment to assist them with the cleanup," Lee said. "I think next week we might assist them with some (parks department) staff members to help."

Despite the fact the ballpark's playing surface went under water for a time, it was not ruined.

"It looks like the grass came back pretty well on the infield and outfield," said Andy Dorian, the city's director of central services, during Thursday's park board meeting at city hall. "They will be fine. They will be able to have a season."

The Hoots ' first home game is scheduled for Thursday, May 30.

Other parks department properties were hit hard by the flood. Dorian said its land on South Main Street looks like a "war zone."

Others sites in need of attention include Dulany Park, the Norfolk and Southern Multi-Sport Complex, the dog park, the Bear Creek Trail and the walking area adjacent to Bear Creek in the Sodalis Nature Preserve.

"The hope is to tackle some of that next week, but that is going to depend on things at Clemens and the pool," Lee said.

Parks personnel have been spending a good deal of time at the aquatic center, which is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend.

Dorian added that the bulk of the trail work may not start until the week of May 27.

"The public will have to walk through some dirty areas for just a little bit longer," he said.

Lee realizes how popular the Bear Creek and Sodalis walking areas are.

"People are anxious to get back in there and have those trails cleared. We ask that they be a little patient with us as we try to get through Memorial Day, then we will start getting other things cleared and ready to go," he said.

danny.henley@courierpost.com