Yakima park officials looking at ways to fix Chesterley Park

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Grass has turned brown at a popular park in Yakima. Irrigation problems have made part of Chesterley Park an eyesore.

It's the time of year when Chesterley Park is in demand. Thousands of people showed up for the annual Yak Attack soccer tournament earlier this month. But, the fields weren't in good condition.

"In the eight years with the Yak Attack being out here at Chesterley, this is probably our worst year," said Yakima Youth Soccer Association Director Mark Fischer.

Instead of green grass, there's a lot of brown.

The problem is water. Four main irrigation lines broke this spring. On top of that, the ash from Mount St. Helens beneath the fields makes it difficult for grass to grow.

"What causes the problem is the water that we do put on the fields doesn't stick around," said Yakima Parks and Recreation Manager Ken Wilkinson. "It goes down into that ash layer."

Park officials said it would cost a few thousand dollars to fix the lines. If that happens, the park will rotate shutting down one of the six soccer fields during the work. But, soccer organizers don't think that would stop their midsummer tournament.

"They can usually open it up for us and then utilize those fields for a short time for that weekend and then shut them back down," said Fischer.

Besides the irrigation problems, the soccer fields might get some attention. Yakima is exploring the idea of upgrading the turf.

"We're doing the best we can, we're dealing with a difficult challenging situation, and we're going to do what we can to get it back and as nice as we possibly can," said Wilkinson.

Another option could be to build soccer fields at a new location. Yakima's city manager says that could run in the millions of dollars depending on the size and scope. First, it's a matter of deciding whether to invest in getting the water flowing at Chesterley again.

Yakima's city manager said if the plan to set aside $750,000 a year for parks and recreation passes, some of that could be used to improve Chesterley Park or build the new soccer fields.