Lemon Park suffered substantial damage during the Sept. 3 flood and it will take time to get repairs complete and get the park open again for both foot and vehicle traffic.
Patience is the key in flood recovery, and the public is advised to give city workers some time to clean up the mess in Lemon Park left by Pratt’s 2018 Labor Day flood.
Flood waters roared through Lemon Park and did considerable damage to the park facilities including ball diamonds and possibly trees, said Alan Jackson, Pratt parks department.
For now, vehicle traffic is the park is closed to the public and Park Department Superintendent Mark Eckhoff is encouraging walkers and joggers to go to other city parks until the damage is cleaned up, Jackson said.
Park damage includes long sections of ball diamond fences torn down and infield material washed away, walking path covered in slick mud and underwater, ground around trees eroded away, piles of river sand along the river bank, driveway asphalt torn away, nature trail bridge heavily damaged, nature tail parking area washed away with lots of mud and silt everywhere.
The Lemon Park sign that used to stand at the front entrance fell down a couple of months ago. It was washed away and was found by the gazebo on the northeast side of the Park. There is a lot of other debris around gazebo as well, Jackson said.
The metal bridge leading to the nature trail on the southern side of the park is still in place but it is covered with debris. The smaller bridge suffered heavy damage and will need to be repaired. No one has been on the nature trail since the flood. Jackson said it would be extremely muddy and the park department expects tree damage but they won’t know until it dries out and they can get on the trail.
“There’s no way to get back there (nature trail),” Jackson said. “It’s too soggy and soupy.”
The small parking place at the access to the nature trail suffered heavy erosion will have to be rebuilt. Much of the rock that used to be on the parking area was washed over the road and sits in a long pile on the north side of the road.
Soil will be brought in to fill in the holes at the base of the trees that were heavily eroded by the rushing water. Jackson said the park department didn’t think the trees would die but they will keep an eye on them.
Ball diamond fences will have to be torn down and a company will be brought in to replace them. The majority of the new sod on the north ball survived but some pieces will have to be replaced. The sod project had started on Friday, Aug. 31, just three days before the flood.
Pratt Community College softball games have been moved to Green Sports Complex until the south ball field dries out and fences can be rebuilt.
There is a lot of silt and mud everywhere in the park so the park is basically closed, Jackson said.
On the northern side of Pratt, May Dennis Park on Mound Street was completely submerged beneath several feet of water. The park bridges were washed away but are still on the park grounds.
Jackson said he believed the bridges survived and will just need to be returned to their original locations. They will be repaired if necessary.
All of May Dennis Park is covered in silt and slick mud. While some disc golfers have braved the mess to play the disc golf course, it will be some time before everything dries out and the park is back to normal.
Some water did get into the restroom at May Dennis as well. Because of the vast amount of recovery work needed at Lemon Park and, to a lesser extent, at May Dennis Park, the Pratt Park Department is asking the public to be patient until these areas are fully functional again.