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Menlo Park may help fund new Hillview field
Original post made
on Jan 25, 2010
With land for new playing fields scarce and demand showing no sign of slowing, Menlo Park may share the cost of a new synthetic field at the renovated Hillview Middle School, in exchange for use of the field. The City Council could authorize negotiations with the school district at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 26.
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posted Sunday, January 24, 2010, 10:36 PM
Posted by John in Woodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 25, 2010 at 6:40 pm
We wrestled with the same set of concerns at the Woodside Elementary School a few years ago, and chose to install an artificial turf field on the U12 and under soccer field. This time of year, it is booked all weekend, and after school every day. This is where the Menlo Park kids are playing soccer during the rainy season, when the majority of other fields are closed (sometimes for months at a time). Little league baseball is even using that field one day/week after school, since the baseball fields are so muddy. (and West Alpine Little League is roughly 70% MP kids) This WES turf field is considered a multi-city community resource, even though other cities didn't help pay for it's installation. If I recall correctly, it was funded through a private fund raising drive, and the cost of the WES turf field above the cost of a grass field was not paid for with a public tax.
We looked at the out gassing problem, and found two details. One, the chemicals considered carcinogenic require that the "fill" get to a temp in excess of 600 deg F, in order to be released from the rubber compound that they are bound to. If the turf field ever hits 600+ deg F, outgassing of potentially carcinogenic chemicals long term is probably the least of our worries. Two, since sometime in the mid 1990s, all asphalt supplied in Calif has ground up tires mixed in, both to reduce the noise level of cars driving on the roads, and to reduce the permeability (extending the lifetime of the asphalt road). If the ground up tires mixed in with asphalt in all the roads, which account for perhaps 20%+ of all surface area in an urban city, release dangerous compounds, the incremental chemicals released from an acre or two on an artificial turf playing field is "background noise" in the environment. How many hundreds of acres of asphalt parking lots, roads, etc are in MP?
We measured a max temp difference of 35 deg F at the sun's highest point of the day; the temp differential went down as the angle of the sun also decreased from 90 deg (vertical). We installed a sprinkler system on the WES artificial turf field, to cool the temps and to "rinse" it if/when needed. With a 35 deg temp differential over the natural grass, 10 mins of sprinkling and five mins of evaporation were observed to take about 25 degress of the 35 degrees out of the turf. We typically get a few afternoons in Sept each year when things are this hot. (say ambient temp is still 100 deg F at 3PM and turf might be 120 deg F, not max difference since the angle of the sun is no longer vertical) It seems that the heat is absorbed in the green grass blades, not in the black fill. Changing the color of the synthetic grass, even slightly, had a major impact on the heat absorbtion. Suggest you look more closely at this, and select a color of greeen for which the Sun does not produce a lot of light exactly at that wavelength, and the heat problem largely goes away.
Minor injuries are way down on the turf field, compared to natural grass. Twisted ankles, twisted knees, scraped legs and the like are all far more common on natural grass. (Most big universities and pro football teams use artifical turf practice fields, specifically to reduce player injuries, to increase field availability, and to reduce maintenance costs.) Most citizens abide by the rule to keep their dogs off the turf field.
It's a great debate to have in public.
With the bubble of increased school enrollment happening in MP, hard to imagine a reduced demand for playing fields. Plus, as empty nesters sold their MP homes to younger couples, these younger couples are also increasing demand for adult rec leagues. (easy to estimate an increase in demand, by perhaps 50%?) Both population trends, combined with the fact that MP doesn't have a significant supply of of undeveloped multi-acre lots that could be developed into public playing fields to meet the increased demand, suggests to me that MP's best choice would be to convert several of their existing fields into turf fields, primarily to increase field availability, and secondarily to reduce maintenance costs (water useage being one such cost). You can get data from PV and from Woodside town, on the sand channel natural field construction method. While it drains the excess rainwater more quickly, it also drains the irrigation water more quickly in the other seven months of the year, thereby driving up irrigation water useage. Multiple methods were used at Barkley Field (Woodside), Rossotti's and PV Town Center (PV), so a few years of comparative data is available. Canada College baseball field, Red Morton center, Sequoia HS locally all use some kind of turf field, and data can be acquired from them.
Good luck with the decision. There's a lot of really happy kids in a broader region playing year round on the WES turf field, after we had our debate and made a decision. (our compromise was to keep the three K fields at WES natural grass, so we have data and experience with both at the same site.)