Despite the unseasonable warmth of the last week, the Claremore Parks Department is prepared for inclement weather, as they do every year.
Park Director Joe Kays said, “We try to do as much preventative maintenance as we can. It’s easier to drain everything and winterize it than it is to fix a frozen pipe that has busted.”
The parks department’s five person maintenance crew begins winterizing parks before Thanksgiving.
“At some of the park facilities, the restrooms and concession stands aren’t heated, so we have to turn all the water off, drain all the water out of the stools, put antifreeze in, and blow all the water out of the line,” Kays said. Walnut Park, Happy Lake fall into this category.
For Pecan Park, Powers Park and the soccer fields, facilities are heated to maintain 50 degrees during the colder months. The restrooms at Will Rogers Park and Claremore Lake are also heated, and open to public use unless temperatures are at or below 20 degrees.
The splash pads are winterized by taking down any shade shelter that would easily be damaged by bad weather, emptying and removing any toy that holds water, and shutting the water off to the whole pad, draining anything that remains in the lines.
The outdoor drinking fountains along the lake trails are also shut off and drained in the winter.
In the event of ice or snow, the parks department clears parking lots and de-ices sidewalks in the order of likely public use. If schools are closed, they begin by ensuring that the Rec Center is open for public use by 8 a.m. with a clear parking lot and entryway.
The rec center is followed by the senior center, public library, and community center so that residents who need a warm place to hang out during the day have one.
The rangers at the lake take care of the sidewalks to and from the docks. After plowing snow off the parking lots at the lake, the department’s maintenance staff will help the streets department clear other city properties.
“With the blizzard we had in 2011, it was all hands on deck to help with whatever we could, wherever we could,” Kays said.
Weather impacts the parks department’s ability to do their jobs probably more than any other city department, especially in the spring, summer and fall, when heavy rainfall and winds do damage to parks that can’t be repaired quickly or wet ground keeps the maintenance crew from mowing.
“You can fight mother nature, but you never can win,” Kays said. “With the 58 inches of rain we’ve had this year, it’s very challenging to keep up.”
The winter time, with all it’s discomfort and headaches, is easier on the parks department because usage is down and the grass isn’t growing.
But no matter how cold it gets, Claremore parks are always well-loved Kays said.
People catch fish on the heated dock, trudge through the snow on the lake trails, and head to rec center for quick workout even when it’s too slick to go to school or work.