Grass or artificial turf? Oceanside weighs pros and cons

Artificial turf isn’t the way to get more time out of Oceanside’s playing fields, members of the city’s park and recreation commission said last week.

Health concerns, maintenance costs and the disposal of the worn plastic require further investigation, said Commissioner Diane Strader. Some of the commissioners said the city should build more lawns and not install artificial turf on top of existing ones.

Oceanside City Council asked staff on December 4th to investigate the feasibility of using artificial turf in some parks to gain more playtime on the existing fields. Mark Olson, Head of Parks and Recreation, presented a report to the Commission last week for preliminary presentation at the Council meeting on March 25th.

Alderman Christopher Rodriguez said at the December meeting that most of the other cities in North County are using artificial turf and that Oceanside should consider doing so in some locations.

“It’s good for the environment to get ahead in synthetic fields,” said Rodriguez. “There are a lot of possibilities here … the technology in synthetic areas has changed.”

Both Oceanside high schools have artificial turf in their soccer stadiums, although none of the city parks have it.

Artificial grass uses much less water than natural grass, which has to be watered. Also, real grass needs to be fertilized and treated with pesticides and fungicides, which can be dangerous and require closures. And reality cannot withstand the heavy pedestrian traffic caused by plastics.

Still, a large contingent of parents say that real grass is superior to artificial turf.

Temperatures on the surface of the artificial grass can reach 200 degrees or more on a sunny day, said Dianne Woelke, a retired nurse who showed the commission photos of blistered feet and legs on Monday.

“Artificial grass is always hotter than natural grass,” she said.

The plastic releases toxic chemicals into the soil and groundwater, said Woelke. The rubber crumb that supports and cushion the plastic leaves of the grass is made from ground tires that contain numerous toxic chemicals. The crumb collects in the fields where children fall on it, roll in and breathe in.

About 16 residents spoke to the commission about the idea, and only one person supported it.

“I feel like the lonely ranger up here,” said Frank Zimmerman, a native of Oceanside and a soccer coach for Oceanside High School. “We need some (artificial turf) fields. There just aren’t enough fields here at Oceanside. “

More soccer fields would help keep kids off the streets and avoid trouble, he said, and because of this, the benefits of artificial turf outweigh the negatives.

Synthetic fields can be used almost twice as often as natural grass because they are not closed for rain or maintenance.

City officials analyzed the feasibility of installing artificial turf in two parks, Mance Buchanon and Martin Luther King Jr.

Installation costs were set at $ 2.5 to $ 2.9 million to install two fields at Mance Buchanon on College Boulevard on the San Luis Rey River and to $ 4.1 to 4.7 million for two fields at Martin Luther King Jr. on Mesa Drive.

The employee report also considered the possibility of installing lights in Mance Buchanon’s fields for approximately $ 1 million, which translates into 700 hours of annual usage.

There are seven artificial turf fields in Karlovy Vary, which are used in city parks for football, soccer and other sports. The oldest was installed 15 years ago.

When Carlsbad replaced the worn-out lawn at Stagecoach Community Park last year, the town was upgraded to a type that uses a coated rubber crumb that reduces exposure to the granules and lowers surface temperature.

Vista has had artificial turf on pitches in three parks since 2006, all with the recycled rubber infill.

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