A flurry of activity at Johns-Manville Park in Lompoc this week is geared toward making the site more friendly to Little League players and less friendly to gophers.
With Lompoc Little League’s new season set to open next month, city crews are putting in new sod, brick dust and gopher wire to get ready for the spring baseball and softball players.
“We took it all the way down to the dirt. In addition to the sod, brick dust and gopher wire, we repaired the existing irrigation to get things ready for spring sports,” said project manager Mario Guerrero of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
“It was needed,” he added.
The City Council voted to ratify a purchase order at Tuesday night’s meeting to provide $53,000 of additional funding for work at JM Park, at East Chestnut and North A Street.
“It’s a time-sensitive project,” Guerrero said. “We also have girls’ softball and Babe Ruth baseball starting up soon.”
Arlen Sechrest, a parks and recreation commissioner, said this kind of work is needed in Lompoc’s parks for visitors who are traveling to Lompoc to see youths play on the local sports fields.
A recent AYSO tournament, the Spaceport Classic, brought in hundreds of youth soccer players — and their supporters — from all over Southern California.
“People come from everywhere for sports tournaments,” he said. “We need to please them. The condition of the parks is important.”
It’s not hard to notice that ground surfaces can be a bit rough in the city parks.
Gophers have been a major problem for a long time in Lompoc’s parks. Various ways to get rid of them have been tried over the years, but nothing has stopped the relentless critters from creating their ankle-killing holes all over the city’s parks.
“We continue to fight them all the time,” said Guerrero, a recreation manager. “Gophers are a concern in all the parks.”
Ryon Park has seen its share of gopher holes as well. People who have gone to the annual dog shows are well-aware of them.
But last year’s show delighted them because of the relative absence of gopher holes.
The city bought a gopher machine that was put to use early last year. The machine works by injecting carbon monoxide into their holes with hoses, said Guerrero.
Cindy McCall, parks and urban forestry manager, said the machine is great, but the gophers still manage to pop up everywhere.
“They’re still a problem,” she said. “We’re fighting them with everything we have.”