“The lower two baseball fields [at Centennial Park] are not in great condition,” public works superintendent Kam So told Lake Cowichan town council Oct. 15.
It was part of an extensive series of reports that So, who just took over the position last month, had prepared for council’s public works committee meeting.
So, what’s wrong with Lake Cowichan’s newest ballfields?
“The Town of Lake Cowichan had a horticulture expert inspect the field and his observations included the field contained Red Thread, which is a turf disease associated with low nitrogen and pH levels. Irrigation was an issue as the over-watering in the evening resulted in reduced oxygen to the roots of the grass. Lastly, there were bog-like conditions resulting in the fields containing 50 per cent weeds (clover, plantain, and moss).
“Continued regular maintenance of water and mowing the lawn at this point would exacerbate the bog-like conditions and would not return the field to playable condition,” So said.
The treatment involves “a combination of herbicides, lime treatment, fertilizers, aeration, and weed control will return the field to a grassy field and a playable state. The lawn wasn’t maintained to a proper horticultural level. The field would not be usable while the treatment is taking place.”
The work has started.
“We want it to be ready by the baseball season. We’re racing,” So said, adding that he has consulted with minor baseball.
“The president of Lake Cowichan & District Minor Baseball Association (Kelly Bergstrom) is aware of the conditions of the ball fields. When consulted about the possible schedule and treatment of the ball field, Bergstrom was supportive of the rehabilitation plan and excited that the ball field will be returning to a playable state,” the works superintendent said.
In a related story, So addressed the idea of leaving the Centennial Park ballfields gate open so people can walk their dogs there, possibly scaring off the Canada geese that have made the park a frequent gathering place.
The idea was broached at a September parks committee meeting, and So has investigated both parts of the idea.
“Geese are a health hazard because they carry diseases that come from their feces. An adult goose can drop as much as two pounds of feces a day. This is dangerous because people can slip on the droppings and hurt themselves. The droppings can also destroy the grass on the playing field.
“It’s been observed that more than 50 geese can be at Centennial Park at one time.
“Centennial Park’s field is currently in a state that requires significant rehabilitation. A baseball diamond is supposed to be covered in grass. The park’s field is currently a mixture of grass, clover, and dandelions.”
Regular maintenance (a combination of fertizers and watering) will result in more of the same, So said, explaining that next year the lawn will be replanted in time for the ball season, following field rehab now.
“Due to the ongoing maintenance, it is not recommended that the public use the park, until it is safe to do so,” he said, but added that since geese deterrents such as noise makers or silhouettes of predators have limited effect on the sophisticated birds, and trapping and releasing them is difficult and ineffective, “the most environmentally friendly and cost effective way to deal with future geese issues is to leave the park gate open.”
Especially when there are such a number of geese, “leaving it open is a great idea”, he said, hoping that eventually the birds get tired of being chased by dogs and do not come back to the park.