Flooding affects recreation venues

August 7, 2013 

OK, admit it. You once hoped for this: On some steamy summer day when the state baked in dry heat, and the brown, brittle grass of our forsaken lawns crunched like potato chips beneath our feet, you wished or maybe even prayed for rain – buckets and rivers and oceans of rain.

As humor columnist Richard Needham observed, we’re often punished mildly when our prayers are ignored but severely when they’re answered.

A few short years since prolonged drought, we are now reeling in the aftermath of nearly eight inches of rain falling over four days beginning June 28, including five inches over two hours on June 30.

Floods left many recreational facilities in need of repair or even unusable.

“What really took a hit was the Bolin Creek Greenway,” Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Director Butch Kisiah said. “It’s going to be weeks or months before we have it all cleaned up.”

Kisiah said the flooding along the greenway felled some 14 trees that had to be removed, and some asphalt will need to be replaced

“We’re trying not to close the whole trail,” he said, “but we may have to close sections of it, and we’ll try to give people us much notice as we can.”

Umstead Park’s playground, already slated for restoration, will now be replaced with a new play structure on higher ground.

“We had money to replace the playground in this year’s budget anyway,” Kisiah explained, “so we’re just going to rebuild the playground farther from the creek.”

Currently, Chapel Hill’s Sykes Street Playground is closed until a new retaining wall can be installed and the playground fall surface replaced.

Carrboro Recreation and Parks Recreation Supervisor Charles Harrington said his agency’s parks are open, and playing fields are drying out, but some playgrounds need repairs.

“We’ve had to close the playgrounds at Wilson Park and Anderson Park to replace some of the playground surface material that has washed out,” he said.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA escaped major problems.

“We didn’t have any major damage, but we did have to re-grade our gravel parking lot out back,” spokesman Greg Lee said. “The lake at our Camp Clearwater location really filled up, and one of our docks moved around a little bit, but we got it back in place. We were very fortunate though.”

Areas where waters were already congregating – local outdoor pools – suffered little damage with a few exceptions.

“Our pool sits up high,” UNC’s Farm Faculty-Staff Recreation Center Director Ben Allred said, adding that the Exchange Pool off Umstead Drive in Chapel Hill wasn’t as lucky. “We ended up hosting the Exchange Pool’s swim team practices here at the Farm pool for a few days, but they were back open by July 4, which was an incredible turnaround after the floods of that previous Sunday.”

On UNC’s campus several facilities experienced damage, notably the Student Recreation Center across South Road from the Student Union, which is closed until further notice. UNC Director of Fitness and Associate Director of Campus Recreation Lauren Mangili said the Rams Head Recreation Center is accommodating higher demand through schedule adjustments.

These same floods were a boon to local lake lovers however, particularly boaters.

“I haven’t heard much about the fishing, but I know that our kayakers are getting into waters in places they’ve never seen before,” OWASA Senior Lake Warden Johnny Riley said of the use of the Cane Creek Reservoir and University Lake facilities.

“There’s one woman that comes out here religiously, and she found a place this last weekend where she’d never been to,” he said. “For her to find something new in a cove she’s in so often it should be named for her: that just blew my mind.”

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area Superintendent Shederick Mole said, early in July, Jordan Lake had to contend with closed canoe access at Rose Creek, several submerged campsites, and the temporary closure of the White Oak Recreation area.

“Everything’s pretty much back to normal now,” Mole said.

Now, as for those of you who wished and maybe even prayed for hot weather back in January …

Chapel Hill News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service