The new pitch at Chandler Park Field is unplayable.                                Tom Best photo

The new pitch at Chandler Park Field is unplayable. Tom Best photo

New Chandler Park pitch still closed after warm winter

We have the gorgeous weather to play in. We have the throngs of kids and adults who want to run up and down the fields. We have the support people to help coach and officiate. All we don’t have is the place to do it.

If we could compare the quality of the field in soccer to the rink in hockey, a poor ice surface can change the nature of the game and it’s no different with a poor field in the world’s most popular sport. Add the increased possibility of injury with an uneven surface that has gouges and pits in it and the quality of the field becomes even more apparent.

It’s not really worth pointing fingers and crying foul. According to Mark Allen, director of development services with the Town of Smithers, most of what is going on with the park that doesn’t allow it to be used for regular play has to do with the weather we had last winter.

The sod went on the ground early enough but there wasn’t enough snow to provide good insulation that would allow for them to get through the winter in a state that would allow them to continue to grow properly in the spring and early summer.

There will be a meeting this Thursday to discuss the state of the fields and review responsibilities and communication protocols.

Allen said that the main concern is that the fields are not being played on. Some previous issues such as ribbing that occurs between rows of sod are no longer issues since they have grown in.

“It’s healing itself. The experts told us that would happen and it has,” he said.

The plan was for the field to be in use by the first weekend in May this year. The wet weather this spring was not a problem, but the lack of snow in the winter was.

It was grown as a special northern sports turf sod from the nursery . There were some issues with dead sections, but that could be because it was the ends of the rolls and they may have been more susceptible to drying out. It all went down nice and green last summer. It went in well and the irrigation was on it immediately.

“It’s almost all green again and we’ve been doing some additional maintenance on the new field,” said Allen.

“We never promised that the fields would be open on May 1. That was the plan but we’re dealing with organic material and weather. It’s pretty hard to control,” he said.