South Bossier Park opening delayed

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Heat stopped efforts to grow grass, not opening this fall

South Bossier residents may be waiting a little longer to fully enjoy the perks of the newly constructed sports complex.

The opening date for the park that will include 15 baseball/softball and multi-purpose soccer/football fields is now scheduled for sometime in the spring of 2014, according to Bossier Parish Police Jury District 1 representative Bob Brotherton.

The plan was to open the park this fall, but crews spent a majority of the summer trying to get the grass to grow on the ball fields. Despite their efforts, the drought was just too much.

“The fields were leveled off and ready for fall activities, but we just couldn’t get the grass to grow,” Brotherton said. “They put water on it every single day, but the heat just evaporated the water. Without the grass out there, we didn’t want kids playing ball on the dirt because the grass would never get going.”

Then, the season changed and the area saw rainfall. Brotherton said the grass is growing and the fields look better and better each day, but the rains came too late in the season.

“We’re just going to let the turf get established out there and get the root system set up,” he said. “The problems we had with the grass not growing just made it difficult for us to open it up.”

Officials say the park will open as soon as it can take the practice and foot traffic without tearing the fields up.

“The bottom line is that the grass out there is wet right now and the turf can’t establish a root system if the kids go running around out there in the mud. We will probably do more damage out there than what it’s worth,” said Brotherton.

Parish Administrator Bill Altimus agreed, saying the parish is holding off on a hard open date to see how the grass takes hold.

“Because of the drought, we had a hard time getting grass to grow. With the recent rains it has really started to take off, and we want to make sure it is rooted well. With the cooler weather now, not sure how that is going to work out. We are eager to open up as soon as possible.”

Brotherton said it will just take a little bit more time and patience until the public can utilize the 100 acre park just off Caplis-Sligo Road. He added that an alternative plan is in the works for the upcoming little league soccer season this winter.

“We know people are excited about the park and want to get out there and use it,” Brotherton said. “We can probably open a space just for practice, but we don’t have any of the goals to have games. If they need a space to practice, it won’t be as smooth as the game fields or perfect grass, but they can still get out there for practice.”

Projects for the park, divided into two phases, included foundation dirt work for the 15 baseball/softball and multi-purpose soccer fields, water, sewage, a parking lot, electricity for the entire complex, restrooms, a playground, pavilions, concessions stand and press box, a walking trail, fishing pier, and fencing for the ball fields.

Phase I construction includes parking spaces, four baseball/softball fields with a concession stand and press box, two soccer fields, covered pavilion, and restroom facilities.

Phase II construction is set to build additional softball/baseball and soccer fields, more parking, a maintenance building, two large picnic areas, a walking trail along Red Chute Bayou, and a fishing pier.

In December 2011, local businessman William “Buddy” Lucky donated 20 acres to the parish and agreed to sell additional property to create a 64-acre park at the end of Crown Court Place in south Bossier.

Bossier City officials had been looking to build a park in south Bossier near Sunflower Road before abandoning the plans. The Bossier Parish Police Jury approached the city at the end of 2011 about the $1 million earmarked for a park in south Bossier City and was given the money in February 2012 for a joint effort.

“This is a work in progress,” Brotherton said. “We’re looking at something that will take four or five years to complete. It may take even longer depending on how the area grows. Being part of a project this big is exciting.”