Waters overflowed from the Swannanoa River and covered a popular East Asheville soccer complex.
ASHEVILLE – Floodwaters that reached 10 feet have left a layer of silt that will disrupt the region’s biggest soccer complex as a busy summer season was set to start.
John B. Lewis Soccer Complex, or “JBL,” is built on a floodplain and is no stranger to being inundated. But Wednesday’s event, was the worst the city’s East Asheville facility has experienced since its 2005 opening, officials said Thursday.
“We have not had a comparable flood ever since the park’s construction was completed,” said Mike Rottjakob, executive director of the nonprofit Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association.
How this affects youth and adult programs
ABYSA runs programs and manages the city facility which sees more than half a million annual visitors.
The flooding came along with regional rains that swamped parts of WNC.
Water from the swollen Swannanoa River was still on some fields Thursday. Rottjakob said cleanup costs are not yet known for the four artificial turf playing areas, but that efforts would be “significant.”
Field closures mean disruptions for youth, as well as adult programs. The last week of tryouts for the region’s premiere youth soccer organization, Highland Football Club, has been rescheduled. Delays are also happening for five adult soccer leagues with approximately 1,000 participants slated to kick off this week, said Jono Starr, president of the Asheville Buncombe Adult Soccer Association, which partners with ABYSA.
“We’ve suspended registration and are telling people who haven’t signed up yet, not to sign up yet,” Starr said.
Youth soccer camps set to begin June 7 should be able to start at an alternative location if JBL isn’t ready.
Most damage was limited
While Wednesday morning’s floodwaters covered 8-foot soccer goals, mangling some and tossing them into trees and also significantly battered the park’s playground, most damage was limited, Rottjakob said.
The field’s turf, installed in 2017, appears to have withstood the fast-moving water, the ABYSA executive director said. Flooding at other complexes has meant ruined turf and expensive replacement processes, he said.
The new turf was selected for its toughness and ability to keep the small black rubber pellets in its base from being washed away.
Costs will be mostly cleanup, which means removing inches of dirt deposited by the flood.
As for whether anything can be done to reduce the flooding at the fields which sit alongside the Swannanoa on the site of the former Lake Craig, Rottjakob said the goal is actually the opposite: to keep water there, “so it won’t increase flooding downstream in places like Biltmore Village.”
Soccer program delays
Program changes due to flooding at John B. Lewis Soccer Complex:
– The final week of tryouts for Highland Football Club will be rescheduled
– Starting games for the Pub League (registration full, but with waiting list), Co-ed, Over-40 and Open will be delayed. Registration suspended and will reopen after field assessment.
Remnants of Alberto storm
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