Hays Park on Spokane’s North Side may look dusty and torn up, but by summer, it should sprout lush green lawn once again due to an automated irrigation system installed over the winter.
The Spokane Parks and Recreation Department used its regular staff – and thus saved thousands of dollars – to dig trenches, lay lines and install valves for the 7.8-acre park at Crestline Street and Providence Avenue.
Tony Madunich, park operations manager, said the installation cost the city about $38,000, mostly for irrigation equipment, compared with an estimated cost of $150,000 to contract the job through the private sector.
“It was an in-house over-the-winter project,” Madunich said. “They were out there in finger-numbing weather.”
Up to last year, park maintenance workers had to water the lawn manually at the 1907 park. That meant extra work for crews and also resulted in less precise watering. In addition, watering was done during daylight hours, meaning some water was lost to evaporation, and the sprinklers were running when people were using the park.
“The sprinklers were a daily thing for us in the summer,” Madunich said.
The new system, designed by a team led by irrigation specialist Randy Nelson, will do a much better job of conserving water. And it will give better lawn coverage, Madunich said.
It was put on timers with remote monitors linked to a computer at the Parks Department maintenance office on Stone Street.
The system will shut down automatically if it rains. Separate flow sensors will shut off water if there is a break in a main feeder line. The computer also will be alerted if a sprinkler head breaks.
Sprinklers will be set to run during the early morning, when humidity is highest, thus reducing evaporation and saving water, and also avoiding dousing park users.
The biggest challenge for crews was laying lines across root systems of the park’s many large old trees, but they got help from the city’s arborist, who made recommendations on how to dig around some of the trees.
“It’s a beautiful classic old park. It’s one of my favorites,” Madunich said.
Hays Park was the third irrigation installation done by in-house crews in recent years. Chief Garry and Underhill parks also received new department-installed irrigation systems.
Other parks that need upgrades – and that will get them in coming years – are High Bridge, Shadle, Franklin, Webster, Comstock and Minnehaha parks, Madunich said.