Parks department springs to action as athletic season nears

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Spring fever shifts the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department into high gear preparing athletic fields for the crush of teams participating in sports ranging from soccer to softball.
   This summer is the first full summer that park patrons will take advantage of the Parks and Recreation renovated facilities.
   The softball field at Cat Island Park, which plays host to dozens of teams during the softball seaon, has a new fence and refurbished field.
   "The last time improvements were made to the softball facility was 1981," said Mike Mains, director of the parks department, of the field. "It is the most used field we have in the entire park system." More than 30 teams from the open and church softball leagues are presently using the field with the adult softball league season just around the corner. Mains said the department hoped to construct a press box and a scoreboard at the field in the future.
   The winter weather has proven particularly challenging for the Parks Department this year. Above-average rainfall soaked fields around the city park system, and groundskeeping employees have hoped for drier weather.
   Groundskeeping crews usually begin work on athletic fields after early January, but the winter weather gave grounds crews a late start on field preparation this year. Snow and rainfall kept fields soggy and virtually unworkable through mid-March, said Mains.
   "We have to have several days of dry weather all in a row before we can really get into working on fields," he said. Groundscrews were at work Tuesday afternoon at the softball field on Mill Street and Joe O'Brien Field where the Elizabethton Cyclones baseball team has hosted home games for the high school baseball season.
   The Elizabethton Recreation Center on Mill Street has also undergone extensive renovations with new floors, two new meeting rooms, and a new gymnasium floor.
   Parks and Recreation Department crews assist with grounds maintenance for the city school system's athletic fields, the National Little League and American Little League organizations, and the soccer and flag football field at Kiwanis Park on West G Street.