Drought will have little impact on local field use
SUMMIT COUNTY – Another reason to be thankful you don’t live in Aurora: The city’s drought will cause the closing of athletic fields this summer and a cancellation of youth and adult sports leagues.
Breckenridge director of leisure services Bob Pfeiffer recently attended a drought mitigation seminar in Aurora with parks and recreation officials from Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, and he came away thankful that Breckenridge is in much better shape than the Front Range.
“The issues they have are horrendous,” Pfeiffer said. “They’re talking about shutting down fields altogether. Some of the leagues will be cancelled.”
That will result in loss of work for game officials and parks employees.
“It affects everything,” Pfeiffer said.
In Breckenridge, field use will be restricted this summer, as it was last summer. But the rules have not been brought on by the drought, rather by the increasing demand for field space from the various teams and clubs in town.
“Our biggest issue is over-compaction, so we try to restrict usage,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s gotten worse as more sports get introduced.”
With men’s and women’s soccer, rugby, ultimate frisbee and lacrosse all interested in using field space in Breck, the town last year began a restricted-use policy. The prized Kingdom Park field was used mostly for weekend games and tournaments last summer. Weekday practices for the various teams were moved to Upper Blue Elementary and Carter Park. The same restrictions will be in place this summer.
“I think it will go a lot smoother this year,” said Breckenridge recreation coordinator Diane McBride. “It was a little bit different last year. Everyone had been used to using (Kingdom Park). But the teams were great about it.”
Breckenridge has voluntary water restrictions in place and recently outlined plans for a water conservation program. But none of it will immediately affect the watering of athletic fields.
“We’re pretty fortunate with the water rights that Breckenridge has,” Pfeiffer said. “Anything can happen, but it looks like we’re in pretty good shape.”
The town of Silverthorne had voluntary water restrictions last summer, which caused the town to cut back on watering Rainbow Park. But it never placed restrictions on the use of the field. That will likely be the scenario this summer as well.
“My guess is we’ll have voluntary restrictions, and we’ll comply with those,” said public works director Bill Linfield.
The county, which operates the Blue River softball fields in Silverthorne, had similar voluntary restrictions last summer. County director of buildings and grounds Tom Auldridge said county commissioners told him to stop watering the fields – home of the popular Summit County Softball League – in mid-summer. But the fields remained playable into the fall.
Auldridge is planning a meeting next week to discuss the watering plan for this summer.
“We’re evaluating what the drought impacts potentially will be,” he said. “We’re not (yet) sure what we’re going to do this year.”
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