Aspen to tread on Vail’s turf

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen officials will be treading on Vail’s turf next month. And Edwards’, too.

The City Council has scheduled an April road trip to check out athletic fields where natural grass has been replaced with artificial turf. The surface is in use in both Vail and Edwards.

Aspen officials are mulling the installation of artificial turf at one of its own parks ” possibly Wagner or Rio Grande ” to provide a more durable surface for the heavily used facilities.

But after running their hands over a briefcase-sized sample of the fake grass earlier this year, council members agreed they need to get the feel for the surface on a much larger scale.

“I’m going to look to see how it performs, and what it feels like when it’s laid out in that big a square,” said Councilman Torre. “What’s it look like? What’s it feel like to the senses when it’s in a big field?”

The turf may work as an athletic field, he mused, but is it suitable for a downtown park?

Mayor Helen Klanderud said she wants to check out the turf’s versatility ” can a tent go up on it, for example, and can people play with their dogs on it?

“Is it something that we believe is suitable for Aspen?” she said, hinting she may take off her shoes and go barefoot in the park. “Can you picnic on it? Can you play on it? Is it going to be acceptable to the community or offensive?”

Eagle County installed the turf on one of the playing fields at Freedom Park in Edwards a year ago at a cost of about $500,000, according to Miodrag “Mio” Sirkovic, project manager in the county’s facilities management department.

“That field is being used like, they have a dozen games a day,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”

It’s used primarily for soccer, Sirkovic said, calling its installation a popular decision. Now, the county is looking at clearing the field of snow so it can be used year-round.

“It feels different, no doubt about it,” said Sirkovic, who has played soccer there. “But, I think it’s a better surface to play on. It’s very inviting to play on because it’s such a consistent surface. It feels good to play on.”

The county eyed the turf when it installed playing fields in El Jebel, though it opted not to use it there, Sirkovic said.

A drought year helped convince the county to give it a try in Edwards. Vail looked at the field in Edwards and installed its own, he said.

The Edwards field is posted with signs banning dogs, chewing gum, cigarettes and bicycles, Sirkovic said.

In Aspen, parks officials estimated installing the turf at Wagner Park could cost roughly $700,000. The fake grass can be cleaned and dogs would probably be able to play on it, according to Jeff Woods, city parks director.

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