The City of Van Buren is contracting with Crawford Construction Company to repair flood damage at the Field of Dreams Sports Complex in an effort to have the facility ready for baseball season.
The city council approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into the contract for construction management services with the construction company during Feb. 3 council meeting.
“This is what we’ve been dealing with for a while with the flood damage at Field of Dreams,” said Mayor Joe Hurst. “This doesn’t mean that we haven’t been working to repair it; we’ve been doing a lot of work there. And I appreciate (Property/Facilities Maintenance and Parks Director) Paul (Dunn) and our city staff for the work they’ve done. What this does is give us the best protection.”
The work will entail everything from the reconstruction of the hospitality room to refurbishing other buildings and structures.
“We wanted to make sure we get all the professional services and we will request that, put it out in the paper and advertise for that because there is a lot of the work that we can’t do,” Hurst said. “There’s a lot of rebuilding, having to take down buildings and spend a lot of money to get it back going. And we need to do that really quickly.”
The construction company is familiar with repairing flood damage at the complex.
“Crawford Construction is the one who fixed Field of Dreams in the past and so I’m very confident they can do it again,” said Hurst. “Hopefully we’ll never have to do it again.”
This will be the third time the city has had to address flood damage at the complex.
One audience member asked if officials had considered constructing a levee around the complex to deter future flooding.
“With respect to this, before any further repairs and such, is there any kind of notion with respect to a levee being built around this park?” he asked. “As was mentioned, there are three repairs that have already been done in, what, five years? Wouldn’t this be an approach before any more repairs are done?”
Hurst replied, “That option was presented in the past and the cost is multi million dollars. The good news is that in part of our plan we do have some flood mitigation work that we’ll do that in the past we didn’t do. And there is FEMA money that can go into the mitigation work. But building a levee over there is not really an option.”
The person then said, “We’ve already spent the millions from what I gather in those repairs.”
Councilman Jim Petty said, “A large portion of that (money) was covered in insurance.”
“We went 21 years without any problems,” added Councilman Alan Swaim.
Van Buren City Attorney Candice Settle said the option of building a levee was part of the discussion held between the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency following last year’s historic flood.
“There’s been quite a bit of discussion with FEMA about all the options that we could take to try to remedy it, to try to move it, to build a levee around it ... a lot of different discussion and effort and study has been put into it,” she assured, “but it has been determined after several go rounds with this is that the most cost effective means is to restore it with additional measures put in place to try to prevent it from happening again in the future.”
She added, “So just because this (topic) is here now in the council meeting doesn’t mean there has not been a whole lot of study and discussion about it.”
Petty said the city would “love to have an option to move” but added, “To build somewhere else versus the cost of a deductible for an issue that may come once every five years or once every 25 years ... this was just determined to be the best option.”
Hurst said the possibility of being turned down for repair funds from flood insurance was among the possibilities faced by the city.
“We thought maybe that was going to happen this time but it didn’t,” he said. “We were also told there was the potential for FEMA to move (the complex) somewhere but the damage didn’t meet the threshold. All that information was weighed. It’s not a perfect situation at all. Hopefully it won’t happen again. But it’s time to move forward.”
Swaim said he and Dunn would oversee the reconstruction of the playing surfaces of all of the fields.
“There’s going to be some work we’re going to do ourselves,” said Hurst. “We’ve already done some work on cabinets and things like that. And it’s insurance money we’ve been spending. We want to get this done and have it ready by baseball season.”