News - July 16, 2008

Remodeling Burgess Park for a full-sized soccer field

by Rory Brown

Menlo Park's Parks and Recreation Commission is set to decide what combination of lights, artificial turf, and natural grass should be at the core of a plan to remodel Burgess Park to provide a full-sized soccer field.

On Wednesday, July 16, commissioners will weigh three proposals, all of which include filling most of the park's baseball dirt infield with grass or artificial turf to make way for a full-sized soccer field that would share space with the baseball diamond. Commissioners are expected to choose one plan to recommend to the City Council for approval.

The meeting is set to start at 6 p.m. in the Burgess Recreation Center at 700 Alma St.

The park, at the center of the city's Civic Center complex, underwent drastic renovations in 2004 that were paid for by the first wave of Measure T funding, the recreation bond measure passed by voters in 2001.

The city planned to build an adult-sized soccer field — something sports groups say the city desperately needs — at the site, but the late addition of a basketball court and skate park to the park's design led to less field space devoted to soccer.

A subcommittee of city staff, parks commissioners and a consultant has come up with three plans to get a full-sized soccer field at the site:

• Replacing the baseball field's dirt infield with grass at a cost of $211,000.

• Replacing the baseball field's dirt field with grass and adding lights to the baseball/soccer field and adjacent Little League field at a cost of $671,000.

• Replacing the existing grass fields and infield dirt with artificial turf, and adding lights to the baseball/soccer field and adjacent Little League field at a cost of $2.68 million.

According to the first two plans, the only portion of the baseball infield that would remain dirt would be the first- and third-base paths.

In June, parks commissioners voted unanimously to recommend a plan to add a full-sized soccer field and running track to Kelly Park in the city's Belle Haven neighborhood — another park that was recently renovated, but is underused, mainly due to design flaws.


Posted by Soccer Mom, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 17, 2008 at 10:34 am

What a waste of taxpayer money. This renovation was just completed for god's sake. Leave it alone for a while. There are more critical issues in menlo park that deserve the funds.

Posted by Mama Mia, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jul 17, 2008 at 11:37 am

Just say no to artificial turf. It's an ecological disaster, and the fumes on a hot day are enough to choke a horse. There's no way it's good for kids to be breathing in that stink while they're exercising.

I go out of my way to take my son to a soccer class that's on a real grass field.

Posted by Soccer Dad, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jul 17, 2008 at 3:39 pm

$200k for a soccer field and still maintaining a baseball field, that is a deal, "dirt cheap". The town could charge for field use to soccer leagues in order to lower or eliminate any maintenance costs. No way on the artificial turf, grass is much better. As for lights, worry about that later.

Posted by $200k is cheap, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 17, 2008 at 4:03 pm

Soccer Dad, AYSO does pay for use of soccer fields throughout Menlo Park. With lights, the adult leagues could play in the evening. Right now, the kids have to get off the field at 6 so that the adults can play.

Posted by $200k is NOT Cheap, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 17, 2008 at 8:50 pm

$200K to turn an existing dirt infield into part of a soccer field sounds ridiculously expensive to me! It makes me want to start my own construction/landscaping company!

And by the way, is that field going to be closed all summer, or what? THAT'S totally ridiculous as well - all that money spent for a "part-time use" field!

Who's in charge in this town - Bozo the Clown?

Posted by irked, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Isn't this expenditure necessary because the field built wasn't the size on the plans? I hope the city tries to get its money back from whoever designed and built the renovated fields that weren't what was promised in the first place.
It is ironic to hear people complaining about actions that will provide more sports field availability when not long ago the complaints were about not enough of them.

Posted by $200k is practically a steal, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 18, 2008 at 6:48 pm

Yes, someone ignored the plans when the renovation occurred. So the money has already been wasted. Too, if the skatepark had bee located behind the rec (the area temporarily occupied by portables) we would not have had this problem. So the city made a few too many mistakes, and $200,000 is pretty cheap by public project standards (oink oink).

The park is closed to protect the grass. You can't use a grass park 12 mos a year or you will wind up with a playing surface that no one can use at any time. With turf, this would not be an issue.

And we still need more fields. Or maybe we should just make our kids stay home and play video games instead of sports.

Posted by Steve Wallace, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 6, 2008 at 2:56 pm

First of all a full sized soccer field (does someone what to define what that might be?) could be lined out in the existing soccer/baseball area with out spending any money. The soccer field would have one corner that is dirt. Either that or you bring in the outfield edge of the baseball infield with grass. (That infield is huge anyway.)

Secondly, the existing soccer field is plenty big for the youth teams and the adult women's teams that use it.

Thirdly, for the use it gets now, it is, and stays in, good shape. Hardly any bare areas and no big holes.

Lastly, for you folks that do no like artificial turf I would like to present several positives:
-The heat on a hot day is generated by rubber infill. Newer turf uses a silica infill.
-No more twisted/broken ankles by stepping in holes (you people who advocate only for real grass probably have never played on a well used grass field filled with holes and grass clumps)
-Minimal upkeep
-and you can play in the rain!

Bottom line really is that the City would be better put spending its money elsewhere.

Posted by referee, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 6, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Yes, an official (FIFA definition) soccer pitch measures 100-130 yards long, 50-100 yards wide. Right now, even by lining the field on the diagonal, it's not long enough.

We need a field that's big enough for high school kids and adult leagues. We used to have one at Burgess, and the plans indicated that we would still have one after the renovation. The contractor obviously made a mistake and should fix it.

Posted by RealityCheck, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 7, 2008 at 12:09 pm

"Thirdly, for the use it gets now, it is, and stays in, good shape. Hardly any bare areas and no big holes."

Ah, that's because the field was closed for what - at least one month, maybe 2, this summer (June-July time frame).
I personally don't think that the right type of grass was laid down to begin with.

I never remember the old field (pre-renovation) being closed down, except at the end of the playing season (November or so).
Someone should investigate this (any reporters left at the Alamanac?).

Posted by no on this idea, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 8, 2008 at 9:41 am

What I think this illustrates is the City has too many staffers and they are looking for ways to keep themselves occupied.

This is a no brainer. No NO NO...

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