EAST COUNTY — As youth utilize the 139-acre Lakewood Ranch Park for sporting events and other outdoor activities this summer, Tom Yarger hopes for clear skies.
Because of drainage issues in low-lying areas of the park, rain often makes it difficult for the East Manatee Bulldogs, Braden River Soccer Club and other teams to practice on fields at Lakewood Ranch Park, located at 5350 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Yarger said.
Rain also puts stress on the park’s only stormwater retention pond, of which Yarger oversaw construction in 1993.
“The area just doesn’t drain very well,” said Yarger, the construction services project manager working on the project. “If we get heavy rain and the guys want to practice football or soccer, the ground is just saturated. We’re trying to relieve that issue while we can.”
Currently, construction on a $300,000 project to build a second retention pond in the southwest corner of Malachite Drive and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard is underway.
Construction crews also are working on a drainage system to help fight the risk of floods on the park’s fields. Using the dirt taken from the pond site, workers will create an additional parking lot at the park.
Building the retention pond is part of a bigger plan to bring a softball field with batting cages, concession and press boxes, pavilions and other additions to the park.
“As money comes in, we’ll check off those other things we want to do on the list,” Yarger said. “But, we have to have the capacity to withstand stormwater before we can build out the property.”
Yarger and the Manatee County Public Works Department, which have been working together on the project, expect to finish the 1-acre pond by September.
The new pond is the park’s first renovation since 2012, when the East Manatee Bulldog field house was built.
“Summer camps are held here. Little League baseball teams practice here. The East Manatee Bulldogs use our field as their home field,” Yarger said. “Lakewood Ranch High plays baseball and softball here. We need to keep this park in the best possible shape we can by helping relieve this flooding.”
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