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LISTEN: A Plumber Shuts Off Water To A City Park For Winter


There’s a pit in Wyandotte Park with a muddy floor and a set of pipes about the same age as Dean Arnold.

The piping pumps water to the park’s bathroom, drinking fountain and spray pad.

On a recent weekday, Arnold, 52, spread his boots wide as he cranked on a valve and cut the water supply. It’s a routine assignment this time of year for the parks’ department plumber.

If the water isn’t shut off and the pipes aren’t drained, they might burst in the freezing winter months, Arnold said.

Dry pipes in city parks are a telltale sign of the changing season. There are some 120 city parks in Louisville. About a dozen bathrooms and water fountains in a few select parks will stay on through the winter, said Marty Storch, deputy director of the parks department.

While the drinking fountains run dry and the restroom doors get locked tight, the parks don’t close, Storch said. The activities just change, a bit.

Arnold, the plumber, has seen a lot change over the years at Wynadotte Park, which sits just south of Churchill Downs, wedged between a row of homes and the rumbling Watterson Expressway.

He grew up just down the street and as a youth would come to the park with his siblings and other kids to romp around the ball fields or dip in the pool.

“The parks stayed full,” he said. “Everybody hung out here.”

These days, though, it’s just not the same, Arnold said.

The fences surrounding the ball fields droop in spots. And the pool is long gone, filled in years ago.

Storch said there are plans to rejuvenate the ball fields and even build new ones to accommodate a youth baseball league kicking-off at the park next year.

That pool, though, won’t be open again. Arnold sighs and shakes his head when he remembers the diving boards and the cool water he’d flock to during hot summer months.

“They’ve shut it down,” he said.

But he’ll be back – not to swim, of course – but to climb back down into the muddy pit, when the warmer months return, to crank on the valve and open the pipes to the bathrooms, drinking fountain and spray pad.

It’s a routine job for the parks department plumber.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.