At this tonight’s hybrid meeting, meeting, the City Council will discuss and provide direction to staff on final design elements for Duvall Field improvements. About a year ago, City hired a consultant, Greenplay, LLC, who interviewed focus groups, stakeholder, and held community meetings to explore improvements of the fields. A concept plan was prepared and the consultant proposed the following:
(1) Reconfigure the athletic/recreational fields to allow Multiple game field configurations and Simultaneous group practices. The consultant proposed a synthetic turf surface
(2) Add an events space containing a stage for performances and movie show, open space, children’s play area, picnic area and informal use.
(3) Add a recreational space for sports like basketball, volleyball, cricket pitch and bounce wall, which can benefit a ton from services such as a Wetpour Surface.
Other amenities such as parking, bio-retention, tree preservation and a walking/jogging trail are also included in the plan.
The conceptual plan was generally well-received by the community as evidenced through public comments, although, the consultant’s recommendation to use synthetic turf as the playing field surface has been controversial. In addition to written and public comments received, a petition signed by twelve families opposed to the use of artificial turf and in favor of natural fields was submitted to the Mayor and Council.
Subsequently, the Mayor and Council asked staff to enlist the assistance of the University of Maryland to conduct further research on the pros and cons of synthetic versus natural turf. There was an opportunity to have an Environmental Science and Policy class at the University of Maryland undertake a Capstone Project to conduct this research. The student class reviewed the literature on field surface options and summarized the relative strengths and drawbacks of each field type.
The field types evaluated were native soil/natural grass, modified or engineered soil, and synthetic or artificial turf. The estimated costs for Duvall associated with the installation, maintenance, and replacement for each field type were provided. A decision-making matrix (please see below) was also developed that listed relevant factors associated with player safety, environmental concerns, and practicality for each field type.
(Key: 1 – Best Rating, 3 – Worst rating)
The consultant Greenplay provided an itemized cost estimate totaling $5,621,775 to construct the proposed conceptual plan, which includes $1,456,000 for approximately 112,000 square feet of synthetic turf surface for ball fields. The cost to build the field of the same size with natural grass was estimated at $784,000 – $1,148,000. According to the student report, the cost for synthetic, modified and natural grass are $672,000 – $1,148,000, $308,000 – $448,000 and $67,200 – $336,000 respectively.
Both the Greenplay and student reports concluded that upfront costs would be higher with the installation of synthetic turf and that annual maintenance costs would be higher with natural turf. Long term costs were substantially equal. The Duvall Field Project is funded through the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget and has an unencumbered balance of $5,104,570, which includes bond sale proceeds and State bond bill funds. Additional State bond bill funds and Program Open Space (POS) funding may be available if necessary. Staff is recommending the Council to pursue final design based on a hybrid of modified and natural turf fields.