Aspen turf debate lies dormant
Aspen’s fake turf debate lies dormant under more than a mantle of snow.There’s no money in the budget for it, either.The potential for a durable surface at one of the city’s parks received repeated discussion this year, but plastic grass isn’t in the parks department’s 2005 budget.”Basically, it’s on hold,” said Jeff Woods, parks supervisor. “There’s no funding to do it next year, even if we wanted to do it. We don’t have the money.”Before the year is out, however, Woods will have a consultant’s report in hand that analyzes the potential for installing artificial grass at Rio Grande Park in conjunction with an envisioned storm-water retention facility there. The city is paying about $15,000 for the study, as council members weren’t sure they could even consider Rio Grande for fake grass, given plans to hold storm water in the park during periods of major runoff. With fake turf, water might have to be stored in chambers beneath the playing field, instead of pooling up on the park surface, before it drains into the Roaring Fork River through a filtering system.The council has debated the placement of turf at Rio Grande Park, Wagner Park or, perhaps, a school campus playing field. Members went to Vail and Edwards last summer to check out artificial grass fields in those locales.Subsequently, a section of the plastic grass was installed along the edge of Wagner Park. It will remain there through the winter, but it hasn’t spurred a lot of comment one way or the other about the surface, Woods said.”We haven’t had a hundred calls saying we shouldn’t do it,” he said. “There are a couple of people in town who are adamantly opposed to it. They write letters to the editor every time it comes up.”A rough estimate of the cost to install the turf at Wagner totaled $700,000. Sinking the field to create seating around it would bring the total cost to about $1 million, according to the parks department.If the council chose to install fake grass at Rio Grande, it would likely be done in conjunction with the overhaul of the park for the storm-water project, which is at least several years away, Woods guessed.The turf idea came up as the city debated ways to keep its downtown parks in decent shape, but still accommodate increasing recreational use and additional special events.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
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