When Chris Finch's 3-year-old daughter kept asking about DeBenedetti Park at Century Boulevard and Lower Sacramento Road on their daily drive, it piqued his curiosity.
"We saw big tractors, and thought, 'Oh cool, something is really happening.' We saw these cute sprigs of green grass, and then we were like, 'Oh no, the jungle had taken over,'" he said.
Finch is referring to the weeds that abound at the park that is still under construction.
The city is working with the contractor to create a green, lush field, and the city will not accept the field until the grass is plentiful, parks superintendent Steve Dutra said.
Because of the slow growing grass at DeBenedetti, residents will most likely have to wait until at least spring of 2012 to play on the three multi-sports playing fields the city is installing in the northwest section of the park, Dutra said.
Several factors contributed to the grass not growing as planned.
The city decided to plant Celebration Bermuda grass because it is a durable grass for sports, and it can flourish in the site's conditions, which include a high pH level, limited organic matter and compacted soil, Dutra said.
The city and the contractor, Hemington Landscape Services, planned to plant the grass in August but because of normal construction delays, it did not get planted until October, Dutra said.
"That type of grass needs the heat of the summer to grow and get established," he said.
The city is currently installing a drainage pump to remove water from the large basin south of the grass.
During the winter, part of the grass flooded because the pump was not yet in place.
In addition, thieves vandalized the irrigation system in an attempt to steal wire, so Hemington workers had to fix that.
The city met with the contractors three weeks ago, and they will continue to monitor the grass throughout the summer. It has started to sprout, and over the last few days, the Hemington employees have been mowing the weeds and working on erosion.
The contractor will pay for any vandalism or work that needs to be done up until they turn the field over to the city. Currently, Hemington is also installing the entrance drive from Lower Sacramento Road and several ADA-compliant parking spots.
"We are not going to accept an inferior product, that's the benefit to the taxpayer," Dutra said. "And as maintenance superintendent, I don't want to take over a headache."
The city is hoping the grass will sprout this summer, and then the city can take over the field this fall. Then, Lodi will need to install ADA-compliant ramps from the sidewalks to the fields.
The city will also delay planting of the 200 Tree Lodi trees that were donated for the park. The city does not want 400 volunteers walking on the grass until it is established, so they will most likely plant the trees this fall or winter.