Charleston unveiled its plans to upgrade Gadsdenboro Park downtown that include a below-surface drainage system that should keep the grassy playing field free of standing water.

Other features include new playground equipment, tree cover, a bocce ball court, chess tables, an area for staging outdoor events and several sites where sculptures can go up.

Mayor Joe Riley led the ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday on the nearly $5.7 million improvement.

“This will be a special park forever,” Riley said.

The 5-acre squared park is located directly across from the city’s Maritime Center.

One key point about the drainage system is that it will allow for better and more regularly scheduled recreational events, officials said, such as soccer, football or other activities.

The area itself is large enough to accommodate two large-sized activity fields.

City Council approved the expenditure in August. The park covers the city block edged by Calhoun, Laurens, Washington and Concord streets.

During Wednesday’s ground-breaking ceremony, officials tied the new park to the new housing for seniors that will go up on Laurens Street nearby that’s being done by the city’s Housing Authority.

The park improvements are expected to be completed by the fall of 2014.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551