Great Lawn will be Thunder ready, but a little muddy

Great Lawn will be Thunder ready, but a little muddy
The floodwater has mostly receded and the park was cleaned of debris, but now what's left is a muddy mess. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The Great Lawn of Waterfront Park was completely under water during last week's flooding. (Source: Air 3, WAVE 3 News)
The Great Lawn of Waterfront Park was completely under water during last week's flooding. (Source: Air 3, WAVE 3 News)
City officials told us it will take at least a month for grass to grow back on the Great Lawn. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
City officials told us it will take at least a month for grass to grow back on the Great Lawn. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Plenty of visitors will soon be coming to town for Thunder Over Louisville. But with the muddy mess the flood left behind, people are wondering what the Great Lawn will actually look like by the time the Derby Festival rolls around.

It's a massive clean-up job, with more than seven acres of mud to deal with and crews told us once they get started on the mess, it's still going to be about a month before you see a major difference.

"It's just the scale of it, there's a lot of it," Gary Pepper, Director of Facilities for the Waterfront Development Corporation, said.

Mud and more mud is all the eye can see, and only if you look really close can you spot some blades of grass in there. While it's no longer under water and the trash and debris is gone, it's still hard to imagine the Great Lawn looking any worse than it does right now.

Flooding did a number on the 90 acre park.

"And about 40 acres was under water," Pepper explained.

WAVE 3 News found workers Tuesday still trying to hose down and clean other areas. That's the plan, so they can then concentrate all efforts on the seven to 10 acres of mud on the Great Lawn.

"It's the biggest problem area because the water sat for the longest period of time there, because it's the lowest part of the park," Pepper said.

The Warf and Harbor Lawn are the other two low lying and challenging areas for crews. First, they'll use Bobcats to blade the mud toward the river.

"Once we get the largest area of it cleaned, we come back and start fire-hosing everything down, two guys will hold a big massive fire hose." Pepper continued.

Sweeper brushes will get leftover mud, then rollers will level the ground before grass seed and irrigation. And that's where a positive spin comes in.

"So the good news is, this is a great time of the year to re-seed your turf," Cindi Sullivan, President of TreesLouisville, said.

Sullivan explained river flooding can be naturally good for the soil, but humans are not so good for grass growth.

"What scares me about the Great Lawn area is that it is well-loved and people are on it all the time, and what you get when you've got lots of foot traffic is soil compaction," Sullivan explained.

Peppers said they have no plans to rope the area off to foot traffic. He believes most people won't want to get muddy and they have a respect for the work that's being done to restore the lawn.

"People coming down for Thunder, it's probably going to be a little muddy, and a little tacky, so they'll probably have to bring some plastic to sit on,"  Peppers said.

By summer, the lawn should be back to its green beauty for events like Forecastle.

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