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The Green, Green 'Grass' of Home

The Belmont Parks and Recreation Commission will discuss replacing the grass at the Belmont Sports Complex with synthetic turf at Wednesday's meeting.

As more and more cities around the Peninsula replace grass athletic fields with synthetic turf, the City of Belmont is considering following suit by installing the ever-green, no-watering-needed material at the Belmont Sports Complex.

The proposed project includes the installation of synthetic turf on the four-acre North Field and potentially the South Field.

The matter will be discussed tonight at the monthly meeting of the Belmont Parks and Recreation Commission. City staff has recommended the discussion based on extensive research and evaluation of turf projects throughout the Bay Area. 

According to a city staff report, the advantages to synthetic over natural turf are:

  • Turf fields have significantly less operating costs because of reduced maintenance labor and material to maintain
  • The new synthetic turf fields increase by 40% to 60% the amount of playable hours
  • Synthetic turf fields do not have to be closed for long periods of maintenance and rehabilitation, and rarely have to be closed due to rainy weather
  • They do not require the imposition of a ceiling on playable hours in order to protect the quality of the field.
  • The flatness and uniformity of the new synthetic turf fields produce venues that provide better and safer recreational opportunities for soccer, baseball, softball and other sports

The firm of Callander Associates Landscape Architecture, Inc. was selected for the project, and entered into a Professional Services Agreement with the City in June 2011.

Tonight's agenda item is for discussion only, no vote will be taken. But if you'd like to be a part of the discussion, come on down to the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers of Belmont City Hall, One Twin Pines Lane.

For more information, click here.

Steve Hayes September 06, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Field Configuration Choices Everyone agreed that Turfing was a good idea, but there was little agreement on the configuration of the North field (the big field) – the choices are A2 or B1 (see the analysis Member posted above). Soccer people want to Turf everything (A2) except the baseball batters box and the pitchers mound (both would remain clay). The baseball people prefer B1, which would retain the natural grass and dirt infield along with a permanent pitchers mound. The arguments are- Baseball needs a real pitchers mound most of the year (Spring/Summer and Fall ball. Sliding into bases on Turf would cause too many injuries and sliding on Turf is less predictable (hard to judge the slide length on turf). The natural grass infield slows down the ball making it easier and less dangerous to field ground ball. Turf has a hard base and the ball would not lose any speed as it passes through the infield – not good if you consider a 13 year old trying the field a ball batted by a much larger 15 year old. As I see it the baseball choice would reduce the opportunity for U19 soccer play. However, there are new U19 fields at Notre Dame and Carlmont and possibly at the CSUS proposed site – all having artificial turf. Even though more kids play soccer I think we should retain the natural baseball infield – the only City baseball field. B1 is the best choice - a perfectly reasonable compromise. The Commission made no final decision about the configuration last night.
Steve Hayes September 06, 2012 at 04:52 PM
City Needs to Bank Operating Savings Turfing will reduce the annual operating costs – water and maintenance. However it will be important for the City to retain (bank) most of the savings to help pay for the returfing that will happen about every 10 years. It would not be prudent to use the money for something else.
Belmont September 06, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Steve, I agree with you. We need to retain the natural grass and dirt infield and pitchers mound. My son is playing fall baseball down at the BSC and the field is amazing! For those who have not been down there lately, the playing fields are extremely crowded right now with soccer and baseball practices occurring well until 7:30 pm at night....I was there this past Tuesday night and there were still people there at 8 pm.
Mike Swire September 06, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Thanks for the update, Steve. When you say that the costs of both alternatives would be about the same, are you including only operating costs or is the initial installation cost in there, too? If the former, what is the net increase in 20-year cost including installation?
Steve Hayes September 07, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Mike The 10 year analysis included the installation costs as well as the operating costs. Of course the 10 year horizon turf savings ($800K) would be more than offset by the necessary returf at the end of year 10 but the net cost increase (returf would cost more than $800K) would then be be offset by the years 11-20 operating cost savings. The real purpose of the meeting was to get reenergize the process and the focus was on selecting the optimal field configuration. Only a couple of minutes were spent on cost and benefits out of a discussion lasting more than an hour.

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