Work to prepare the grounds at the Veterans Memorial Park is expected to begin in July, but it could be more than a year before the park can be used.

Members of the city’s east park development committee Tuesday night met with representatives of Cochran engineering to discuss changes to the $575,000 grading plan.

A major portion of the plan calls for grading and seeding of the 43.8 acres of land located off Progress Parkway south of Highway 50. The board of aldermen must approve the plan when the 2013-14 budget is finalized later this year.

David Van Leer, with Cochran, said there is about 100,000 cubic yards of earthwork, and the grading plan includes 24-foot wide roads.

The updated plan shows a change in the location of the entrance of the park.

Bids will go out for the project at the end of May, and then will be awarded in June. Work will then begin in July and seeding is expected to be complete in early October.

Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Arand asked if the grass would be given enough time to grow before the soccer fields will be used.

“In soccer you get a lot of areas worn out,” he said. ‘I’m afraid if we don’t get a good growth of grass on the soccer fields, it is going to get torn up.”

Alderman Bob Schmuke asked if there could be sod laid in front of the goal boxes on the soccer fields.

Shannon Johanning, with Cochran, said the fields will likely not be usable for another year after that.

“The intent is to seed everything so it is all stabilized,” he said.

Johanning suggested that the park have restricted access until the grass is ready to be walked on.

“We can always go in and sod the high traffic areas,” he said.

He added that about 80-90 percent of the grass will be salvageable if the park is blocked off from foot traffic.

City Administrator Russell Rost said the officials should consider water and sewer lines while waiting for the grass to grow.

“I feel like the next logical step is basic infrastructure,” he said. “If we just open it up, it could damage the grading that we are doing.”

The roadway within the park also may have a gravel surface added while the park is closed, but plans call for the roads to eventually be paved.

After the grass is in place at the park, work can be done to add amenities and sport field components.

“This is the most important part of the project setting the stage for that,” said City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann.

Park Design

The park was planned to meet the growing needs of youth sports leagues in the Union area.

Plans called for two soccer fields, a football field, and a large tournament baseball/softball field and four smaller fields.

Also in the plans were marshlands and water sources to be utilized as a conservation area, or passive park, as well as picnic areas and shelters.

There also are playgrounds, a maintenance shed, lakes or ponds, pavilions and other amenities, including a “loop trail” intertwined with smaller trails.

SWT Design utilized requests and demographics to determine the city’s parks needs that could be met at the east park location.

Elected city officials, city staff, members of the east park development committee and Franklin County youth sports leaders submitted requests to SWT Design of what they would like to see included in the park.