Hoover, school system plan artificial turf for 11 baseball, softball fields

The Hoover City Council on Monday night approved a resolution for the city to enter a partnership with Hoover City Schools and the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board to add artificial turf fields on 11 baseball and softball fields in the city.

The city plans to pay an estimated $9 million for artificial turf on seven fields at Hoover city parks and the varsity baseball fields at both Hoover and Spain Park high schools, City Administrator Allan Rice said.

The Hoover Board of Education on Tuesday night is supposed to consider approval to pay for artificial turf on the two varsity softball fields at Hoover and Spain Park, Councilman John Lyda said.

The city fields slated to get artificial turf will be two large baseball fields at Hoover Sports Park East, two large fields at the city’s Spain Park sports complex, two softball fields at Hoover Sports Park Central and one large baseball field at Hoover Sports Park West (also known as Shades Mountain Park), Rice said.

The artificial turf should allow for more extensive use of the fields because the wear and tear on the fields won’t be as bad, Rice said. Also, both the city and school system won’t have to wait as long to use the fields after rain events because they won’t have to worry about mud, he said.

That potentially could help lessen the number of times kids have to be up late on school nights trying to squeeze in makeup games, Rice said.

Also, the large fields actually can be broken up into smaller fields for younger children, allowing for even greater use, he said.

The artificial turf fields, while expensive, cut down on maintenance costs because they don’t require all the water, fertilizer and mowing that natural grass fields require, Rice said.

Plus, “we’re pretty sure that moms all across the city will rejoice in not having to wash clay out of white ball pants,” Rice added.

The reason the city is agreeing to pay for turf on the varsity baseball fields that belong to the school system is because the city of Hoover actually uses those fields more than the schools do, mostly for tournaments being put on by groups such as the Perfect Game organization, Rice said.

While a high school team might play 15 games on its field in a year, the city and its management partner at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex, Sports Facilities Management, program hundreds of games per year on those fields, Rice said.

So it makes sense for the city to participate in the cost of the turf, he said.

The city plans to use money that is currently allocated for debt payments, Rice said. That money no longer will be needed to pay off a particular bond series because that existing debt likely will be rolled into new debt the city is planning to undertake, he said.

The turf should be a good investment because it will allow the city to schedule even more activity on the baseball and softball fields, expanding sports tourism and bringing in additional tourism dollars, Rice said.

On a related note, the Hoover school board already has budgeted $1.2 million to add new restrooms at the varsity baseball and softball fields at both high schools, said Matt Wilson, the school system’s director of operations.

Currently, the press boxes at the varsity fields have two single-use restrooms, but the new restroom facilities to be built each will have six stalls for women and three stalls and three urinals for men, Wilson said. Those restroom facilities are under design, and school officials hope to build them this coming spring, he said.

Timelines for construction of the artificial turf fields are still unknown, Rice said.

Hoover Councilman Steve McClinton said the artificial turf is a great idea that is long overdue.

In other business Monday night, the Hoover City Council:

  • Agreed to hire a company called LandDesign to do an inventory of existing recreational facilities in the city and help the city craft a strategic plan for improving those amenities, expanding them or adding to them with amenities in new locations. That study will cost $239,000 and be funded in part by a $50,000 donation from Signature Homes, which suggested the inventory be done.
  • Agreed to pay Amwaste a fuel surcharge for garbage pickup services when fuel prices rise above $3.05 per gallon for low-sulfur commercial disel fuel, Rice said. Fuel prices have hit garbage pickup companies hard, and this change will allow the price the city pays to float with the fuel market when it exceeds the base level, he said. “It allows them to cover their costs.”
  • Agreed to use the $8.9 million the city has received from the federal government for COVID-19 recovery to replace revenue spent on payroll. The $8.9 million should cover three to four payroll periods and allow the city to use that money for something else, Chief Financial Officer Tina Bolt said. The City Council will decide how to use that money.
  • Agreed to pay $58,675 toward construction of a fitness court at Veterans Park as part of a joint project with Shelby County and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. The total cost of the fitness court will be $167,350, with Blue Cross providing a $50,000 grant and Hoover and Shelby County each paying $58,675. The fitness court will be a 40-by-40-foot pad with full-body workout stations, City Planner Mac Martin said. Sample drawings provided to the Hoover zoning board showed workout stations designed for core exercises, squats, pushups, lunges, pullups, agility movements and bends.
  • Agreed to pay $20,000 to the Hoover City Schools Foundation and $15,700 to the Miss Hoover Foundation.
  • Gave approval for developer Clint Sukar to build a three-story, 26,700-square-foot mixed-use building on 1 acre at 1869 Chace Drive, right at the edge of the commercial sector of Chace lake and near single-family homes. The plan is to have 10 condominiums with at least 1,420 square feet each on the top two floors of the building and 5,000 square feet of commercial space and six garages on the bottom floor.
  • Reappointed longtime Municipal Judge Brad Bishop for another two-year term.

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