Aspen’s Iselin Field to get artificial turf
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Aspen will be short an athletic field this summer, but by mid-September, the town will have its second playing field of artificial turf to help accommodate the growing demand for team sports in a place where snow may linger on the grass fields well into May.
The City Council this week approved a $479,037 contract with Academy Sports Turf for the installation of artificial turf at Iselin Field, the upper playing field next to the Aspen Recreation Center. Rotary Field, the lower field at the ARC, will remain natural grass.
Iselin Field will host a mid-May lacrosse tournament and then city crews will begin tearing out the natural grass and preparing the site for installation of the artificial turf. The project is expected to be complete by mid-September. Site work done by the city will help hold down the cost of installing the new surface, according to Stephen Ellsperman, city parks and open space director. The total budget for the project is $650,000.
The project involves about 107,000 square feet of turf.
The artificial surface can handle the wear of nearly three natural turf fields, given Aspen’s growing season, according to parks officials.
While the artificial turf will give the city another field to better accommodate the host of recreational and high school teams that need a place to play and practice, the loss of Iselin Park this summer means adjustments for the city’s softball leagues.
Oh, and the city expects to have one heck of a sod sale, or perhaps a grass giveaway. What exactly happens with the natural grass to be ripped out at Iselin has yet to be decided, Ellsperman said.
“It’s some fantastic sod,” said Scott Chism, parks planner and project manager. “I doubt it will be going to the dump.”
For the city softball leagues, the loss of one of four available ball fields could mean the season begins a little earlier, or goes later into August, according to Keith Bulicz, recreation supervisor. And, players will likely be restricted to wood bats at one of the remaining fields, the upper Moore field, where the outfield dimensions are smaller.
There’s been a call among some players to return to wood bats for recreational play anyway, he said. The ball doesn’t travel as far when it’s struck by a wood bat, and doesn’t come off the bat as quickly as it does off an aluminum one.
“It’s going to be a convenient way of trying out this wood bat transition, if you will,” Bulicz said.
The city will probably purchase a selection of wood bats for teams to use, he said, or players can bring their own. Bulicz said he welcomes input on the matter. E-mail him at email@example.com or call him at 920-5140.
The growing demand among outdoor sports teams for places to play has driven discussions about a second field of artificial turf in Aspen, according to Ellsperman. City officials began debating converting a downtown park, Wagner or Rio Grande, to artificial turf back in 2004, but many residents were opposed to losing natural grass at either site. Ultimately, the city shared in the cost of installing artificial turf at the Aspen High School athletic field. It can be cleared of snow for use by soccer, football and lacrosse teams when other local fields aren’t in playable condition.
The new turf at Iselin will mean the Aspen skiers baseball team can play its home games at home in the early spring. The team often plays in El Jebel and has traveled as far as De Beque when no area field was in suitable shape.
The exploding interest in lacrosse is yet another reason for the conversion of Iselin Field, Ellsperman said.
The artificial turf will come with permanent field lines for lacrosse, soccer and baseball – each in a different color. It’s a system that works on other artificial turf fields that city officials have visited, according to Chism.
“When folks hear that, they say, ‘Wow that sounds confusing,'” he said. “All the coaches and players we talked to on the Front Range, they’re like, ‘Yeah, the players know their colors and they just ignore the other lines.'”
It will also be possible to stripe the resurfaced Iselin Field for football with nonpermanent paint, Chism said.
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