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City didn't violate restrictions when watering football field
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GAINESVILLE — Those who noticed the sprinklers running on Bobby Gruhn field Tuesday were not mistaken.

The Gainesville Parks and Recreation department irrigated the city football field shortly after King Green fertilized it Tuesday morning, said Melvin Cooper, director of Gainesville’s Parks and Recreation department.

As per Gainesville’s new watering restrictions, watering following the professional application of fertilizers is allowed for one day after the application.

Cooper provided e-mails showing Jeff Morrison, Gainesville’s parks division manager, asking Horace Gee, environmental services administrator for Gainesville, if it would be OK to water the fields the night after the fertilization.

Gee, in his response, instructed Morrison that outdoor watering in Gainesville is restricted to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during daylight hours, and could only be done once after fertilization.

Originally, Morrison scheduled fertilization of Bobby Gruhn Field for Tuesday and the Boys & Girls Clubs for Thursday. However, it likely will be the last time the department fertilizes any fields in the near future.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cooper suspended all scheduled fertilizations at city facilities, including the one scheduled at the Boys & Girls Clubs, until further notice.

Cooper said after Tuesday’s fertilization the sprinklers ran on the fields for about three and a half hours. Cooper said the three-hour sprinkler run was only one irrigation cycle, and it was necessary to water in the fertilizer.

Tuesday’s fertilization was to supplement the rye grass that the parks department planted over the Bermuda grass in September, before the state enacted the level four drought restrictions, Cooper said.

The rye grass provides a safe playing field for the soccer season in February and March, a time of the year when the Bermuda grass on the field is dormant, Cooper said.

Billy Skaggs, Hall County Extension Coordinator, said that newly seeded grasses require fertilization, and it takes six months for rye grass to become established.

"As rye grass is a winter annual grass, it does need to be fertilized several times in late fall in order to become established enough for spring play," Skaggs said in an e-mail.

However, fertilization can be reduced in times of drought, Skaggs said.

Gov. Sonny Perdue asked for Georgians to take pride in a dead lawn, but pride could be costly for the Gainesville Parks and Recreation department, says another employee of the Hall County Cooperative Extension Office.

"In a commercial situation or a public situation like this I would think that it would be something they would need to do to keep that field up and going," Kathy Seals, horticulture programs assistant for the Hall County Extension Office, said. "They’ll spend more money on the other end if they don’t do it now."

The same rule does not apply to residential over seeding.

"(Recreation officials) need to keep those fields up," Seals said. "The homeowner is a different subject ... that’s a whole different topic."