As winter is upon us and most residents are indoors staying warm, but the McPherson Park Department team is bracing the cold and preparing McPherson's parks for the upcoming winter.

The team begins the process of winterizing the parks in the middle of October, due to the large amount of ground they have to cover — 25 locations to be exact.

"This includes all turf and flower bed irrigation, drinking fountains and all the hose bibs in each park, this is usually completed by Oct. 31. We are also responsible for winterizing Swan Court fountain, Wall Park Pavilion fountain and the Janie statue at Tallgrass Park. We also winterize and close four public restrooms, the restrooms at Challenger Park are not winterized and left open all winter," said Lauren Przymus, park supervisor of the department.

Przymus said it takes the department about a week to winterize the irrigation systems and the plumbers take about a week to complete the restrooms and water park shut down.

With weather patterns changing every year, the department has to predict when they will begin the process.

"If it is really dry, we will wait longer and if its unseasonably cold, we will shut things down earlier," Przymus said.

Along with preparing the water pipes and other duties, the department also prepares the vegetation for winter as well.

"Our fall planting of violas and pansies relies very heavily on getting enough water to establish the plants so they survive the winter and have color in the spring. If we encounter dry weather after we plant, we will water them every day," Przymus explained. "This is what we are doing this season to try and combat the dry weather. If those annuals are not watered sufficiently, they will not bloom in the spring. When it is dry, it is very hard on new trees, we are also watering those with a water wagon once a week."

If the parks are left unattended, bigger problems could occur.

"The pipes will freeze underground or above ground. When we fire the water back up in the spring, we will have a huge cost to repair broken lines, or the pipes with water will not shut off and will be a mess to clean up in the cold of winter," Przymus explained.

The department has kept busy this winter season as the bridge was updated at Swan Court in Lakeside Park.

"The Swan Court bridge was actually brought in and already completed in 1987. We replaced the old timbers with new timbers. Once we cut the boards down to the right size, it took us a few days to place the new boards. After the boards were placed, we did a water seal on the new planks," Przymus said. "There was a need for the new timbers, as the old timbers were worn. Swan Court is a popular attraction in our park system."

For more information call 620-245-2565 or visit their website at http://www.mcpcity.com/178/Park-Department or visit their Facebook page. 

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.