Harpeth Youth Soccer rebuilding after flood

Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 11:45pm

Images of boats gliding across a lake where soccer fields sat more than 30 feet below no longer show on the TV screen. The water has receded from the nearby roads and the Harpeth River sits quietly within its banks.

Still, more than a month after floodwaters overtook the Harpeth Youth Soccer Association complex in Bellevue, the aftermath is just as incredible.

A small concession stand that was carried several feet downstream is tilted on its side and leans next to the HYSA’s equipment shed.

A three-ton capacity bridge that crossed over the Harpeth River to the greenway and a couple soccer fields lies on its side, four feet from where it should be upright.

There is a heap of broken metal that not long ago formed goalposts and crossbars. Then there are goals that are still standing, though most are tattered and mangled.

The 20-plus soccer fields are empty. A month ago, this 40-plus acre site off Coley Davis Road next to Interstate 40 served as a home for more than 2,000 young soccer players.

Not anymore, and maybe not for a while.

“As things happen around the country, you’re like ‘Oh wow, look at that damage and look at all that stuff,’ ” said Sterling Nabours, executive director of HYSA. “But now, having been the first time to experience something like this, I realize how long it lasts. And Nashville will be cleaning up for a while.”

But he’s had help from a team of volunteers who have logged repair hours at the HYSA complex.

“We are thrilled to have been helped by so many people in the community,” Nabours said. “[HYSA] is as much as part of this community as everybody else — Davidson County and Bellevue. Although we’ve been hit, we’re trying to help where we can, too.”

Cataloguing the damage

Bill Zuckerman was like everyone else.

The sights were shocking — so much water, so much wreckage.

Even though the field coordinator at HYSA was on the scene not soon after the flooding hit on May 1 and 2, it took a moment for things to register.

The to-do list is lengthy and most of the must-dos require money. HYSA has received equipment and maintenance donations — paint offered to stripe the fields, a tractor on loan from Oak Hill School.

Another big need is to replace more than 40 goals that were either badly damaged or carried down the river.

Maintenance of the 21 fields is just as high on the priority list.

And HYSA’s water pump is out of commission. It, like everything else, was flooded. The advantage of the manual pump is that it draws water from the Harpeth River; thus, irrigation for the fields is free.

A couple weeks ago, with some help, Zuckerman pulled the pump out and tore it down. He said an HYSA board member, also a mechanic, is working on rebuilding it. Once it is up and running again, Zuckerman will need to get a new control box to operate underground irrigation system.

“Once I can put water on the field, then I can put grass seed down, I can put fertilizer down, we can start to heal it up,” Zuckerman said.

The organization is still waiting on electrical contractors to replace the control box and circuit breakers that operate the field lights. Nabours said there are electrical contractors in the league who have offered their services.

As for the buildings on the property, the main concession stand in the center of the complex, which also houses some equipment, is still standing and will be back in use.

The same can’t be said for a smaller concession building that was located behind the larger equipment building. It sits on its side, as if it was picked up and dropped.

But the massive greenway bridge does affect the soccer complex. For starters, the overturned structure is now a safety hazard, and the path to the bridge has been blocked. Because the bridge is down, Zuckerman and his crew can’t get over to work on the full-sized soccer field on the other side of the river.

One option is to turn the bridge over and take it to the parking lot to check it for structural damage. The other option is to flip it back into place, check it structurally and then set it.

“It’s not your typical bridge,” he said. “I say that because some people say, ‘Oh, a greenway bridge got washed.’ Well, yeah, but this was a huge bridge that spanned the whole river.”

The fields, though, seem to be in decent shape. Zuckerman said there are a couple fields that aren’t usable due to debris that settled there.

There was initial concern over contaminants in the fields. Representatives from Test America — an environmental testing firm — said they could tell there had been contaminants present, Nabours said.

But after a week, as more rain fell, any contaminants were washed off, and Nabours received the green light to proceed with soccer.

Nabours is optimistic HYSA will be able to hold a preseason camp for traveling teams at the end of July. The fall season is still scheduled to begin in mid-August.

He expects there will be some decline in numbers from the nearly 2,500 participants the organization had before the flood.

The organization has received and is still taking donations through its website, www.hysa-tn.org. A soccer festival is planned for July 17 at the complex. Not only will registration for the fall season take place that day, but there will also be soccer games and other different activities and events.

HYSA will also be using the festival as an opportunity to raise funds. Several recreational and travel teams have offered to run some of the booths in order to raise money for equipment such as goals, which, according to Nabours, could cost between $1,200 and $2,400.

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