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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — Baron Rosby of Diamond Construction Company works around a sinkhole in the outfield at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock in this 2016 file photo. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

The North Little Rock City Council approved legislation Monday evening to bring in an outside engineering consultant to study the problems with sinkholes on Dickey-Stephens Park's baseball field.

Opened in 2007 near the Arkansas River downtown, Dickey-Stephens Park is home to the Class AA minor league Arkansas Travelers. The $40.4 million stadium is owned by the city through its Public Building Authority.

The council's approval in a 7-0 vote authorized an $89,000 contract with Black & Veatch, Inc., headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., to do an evaluation of the field problems. Council Member Ron Harris was absent.

Sinkholes have been a problem in the past, and they occurred again during May and June when they Arkansas River flooded. The playing surface is 12 feet below street level.

"Several local consultants have looked at this since [the ballpark] was built," Chief City Engineer Chris Wilbourn told the City Council, adding that the need was for "fresh eyes" to study the field problems. "Plus they will look structurally at the outfield walls on how to stabilize them."

After a few large sinkholes appeared after river flooding in late December 2015, North Little Rock spent about $450,000 to repair the sinkholes and replace underground drainage pipes. The city spent another $52,000 to replace a waterline and make additional improvements.

Small sinkholes appeared during a Travelers game May 31, delaying play for 23 minutes until the grounds crew could fill them and play resume. The start of the Travelers' game the next day was delayed 45 minutes when sinkholes appeared again.

Metro on 08/13/2019

Print Headline: Outside engineer to study ballpark sinkholes

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