GERING — Members of the Gering City Council approved a service amendment on a project to continue drainage improvements in Northfield Park.

Gering Director of Public Works Pat Heath said the city was experiencing drainage problems from the north into the park — from the Ramona Drive and Virginia Avenue areas.

All of the Northfield Addition naturally drains into the canyon, even before the park was created.

In the summer of 2018, the city installed a storm sewer to collect water from some of the areas that were draining into the park, but that created a wet area in the flat bottom area of the park.

“The plan is to move the drainage pipe further east so the water dumps into the culvert at Pacific Boulevard,” Heath said. “That should remedy the problem of having water standing in the bottom of the park all the time.”

Because the middle section of the park is mostly flat, kids use the area for activities like football and soccer. A soggy field makes play more difficult as well as adding stress on the grass.

Heath said the city has $200,000 in its budget for storm sewer improvements

Baker and Associates is doing the engineering for the project. It’s still to be determined whether city staff will do the work or whether they will ask for bids from private contractors.

The Northfield Park drainage project was first discussed by the Gering Recreation Committee in April. Following a lot of discussion, committee members recommended the city work with Baker and Associates on the proposed solution they offered.

The engineering firm had made an additional service amendment to the proposal, which they presented to the city in May. It was that amendment that council members approved at its Monday meeting.

“There were a few unintended consequences from draining the storm water into Northfield Park,” said Gering City Planner Annie Folck. “The amount of water was a lot more than originally anticipated, so the flat area just isn’t getting a chance to dry out. Plus we’ll lose turf if we don’t make some changes.”

She said it’s more than just storm runoff that’s been draining into the park. They also get water from people watering their lawns in the summer.

“We can have a dry day and still see water in the bottom of the park,” Folck said. “The area just isn’t getting a break to recover between storms.

Folck added that as we get into the drier part of the summer, they’re hoping the turf will be alright until the city is able to make some changes.

The turf will need to be re-evaluated once the water is rerouted to the east end of the park.

Heath said the schedule is still tentative, but the work could begin sometime toward the fall of 2019.

“If we go with a contractor, we’ll have to consider their schedule as well,” Folck said, “but the sooner we get this done, the better.”

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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