Project to mitigate flooding of the Youth Commission fields

Today the Town started a project to mitigate future flooding of the lower recreation fields at the Hartford school that the Hartford Youth Commission uses for all of its T-Ball, Baseball, Softball and soccer activities for youth in grades K-6.

In early June a very heavy fast rain storm made the creek that runs between State Route 40 and the lower Recreation fields jump its banks and flood the fields. The water that coursed across the boys baseball diamond had enough velocity that it scoured out quite a bit of the new infield red slate dust from 3rd base to 1st base. These fields did not flood during Hurricane Irene but they did in early June

A field survey of the stream bed that I arranged for by Washington County Soil and Water in July found that deposited gravel bars and brush debris in the stream bed cause the stream to meander and take the path of least resistance which was towards the recreation fields.

If you drive past the school at the intersection of Route 40 and 149, you will see a small excavator that Russell Wade brought in located at the creek. Excavation has started to redirect, widen the stream bed and pull out brush debris that is clogging the stream and choking the natural flow of water.

The lower fields and stream bed are properties of the Hartford Volunteer Fire Company (Girls baseball diamond) and the School District (Boys diamond). Even though these properties are not Town property, the Town decided to be the lead agency to remedy the potential for flooding. This is because the Hartford Youth Commission, at this time does 100% of their home youth T-ball, baseball, softball. and soccer programs on these fields. The Youth Commission is by far the majority user of these fields and expenses to build dugouts, import infield slate dust, etc are born by the Youth Commission while the school mows the fields.

The Town and the School have agreed that the expenses for this project will be shared 50% School, 25% Youth Commission, 25% Town General Fund. By using all volunteers we anticipate that the actual expense will be quite small for the amount of work accomplished.

This stream is a class D stream meaning that no permits are required to work within it. There are also no State or Federal wetlands in this area adjacent to the lower fields. Even though no permits are required, I arranged for Washington County Soil and water to survey the area, take elevation shots and come up with a written plan using good environmental practices that we could follow.

Today while the project was underway, DEC officer Gonyea stopped by at the site in response to a complaint from a neighbor. I happened to be there watching Russell dig and I told him about our plans, the class of stream, location of wetlands, and how we were following written recommendations of WashCo Soil and Water. This satisfied Officer Gonyea and he departed confident that were were not just a bunch of yahoos.

Unfortunately, at this time these lower fields are all the fields the Youth Commission has for their programs. It is vital to the program that we save these fields and all the labor expended upon them from the encroaching creek. Because effort and funds are being devoted to this project, the upper Youth Commission Recreation field construction project (west of the Varsity Soccer field) most likely will not resume until late fall or even next year. With limited budgets and volunteers you need to prioritize and should only bite off what you can chew at one time.