City is smoking the wrong kind of grass
February 10, 2004
Excuse us for being more than a little taken aback by the latest proposal from the city of Aspen Parks Department. But we have to ask: Are you guys nuts?The Aspen City Council is seriously considering a proposal to replace the natural grass at Wagner Park with artificial turf. You know, plastic grass. Astroturf. The stuff that eats knees.The Parks Department backs the change as a way of dealing with the ever-increasing demand for playing fields in Aspen. Jeff Woods, the department director, told a very receptive City Council that plastic grass would allow the park to handle the equivalent of four natural-turf parks the size of Wagner Park.Really? Maybe if people want to play in the off-seasons. Nothing like a cold day in early May for kicking a soccer ball around. But for the times of peak demand, it seems unlikely that a single artificial-turf field will handle the demand of four grass playing fields.But all thats besides the point. It seems hard to envision anything thats less cool than a big field of plastic grass in the middle of town, although one Times staffer said it would be the perfect representation of Aspen in 2004.Here are some other thoughts we had:Its a horrible idea. This is the mountains, not Disneyland.I think its stupid as stupid as driveways that melt snow.How about plastic aspen trees that stay green year-round!Do you really want your dog pooping on plastic grass? Wont it stay there forever? It would never become one with the earth.Ive played football, soccer and Frisbee there my whole life, and even on the rainiest, muddiest day I never thought, Boy, they need to replace this grass with Astroturf.While a financial case could probably be made for the $700,000 to $1 million that will be spent to lay the artificial turf upkeep, after all, would be nil that doesnt necessarily justify it. And for that matter, a financial case against plastic grass could also be made with a well-invested $1 million endowment, Wagner Park could have a full-time groundskeeper all to itself. What this proposal looks like at first glance is a subsidy for the Food & Wine Magazine Classic and, possibly, Janus Jazz Aspen Snowmass. Artificial turf would make it much less expensive for them to hold their festivals because they wouldnt have to pay for restoration of the playing field. Wagner Park is a great old grass field. It should stay that way.