Mountain View Voice

News - October 14, 2011

Shoreline ball fields win council approval

by Daniel DeBolt

With the city's ball fields more crowded than ever, the city's youth sports leagues may soon find some relief.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the 6-acre "Shoreline athletic fields" project on Tuesday, allowing construction to begin near Shoreline Golf Links on a Little League-sized baseball field with 60-foot base paths, and a Major League-size field with 90-foot base paths, along with a parking lot, bleachers, concession stand, picnic area and a playground.

"We're always trying to compete with everyone else" for space, said Mike Reelfs, president of the Mountain View Little League. "Anywhere we can have more fields for kids to play we're all for it and we really hope this gets passed."

Mayor Jac Siegel called the project a "major milestone for the city" and said it was good to see the project finally come to fruition. Council member Tom Means said he remembered discussing the idea eight years ago when he was a city commissioner.

The site, a former landfill that is currently used for city storage, is next to the south end of Shoreline Golf Links and is just across the street from Google's Garcia Avenue offices near Amphitheatre Parkway. Within the footprint of the two baseball diamonds there is room for anywhere between two and four soccer fields, depending on the size of the soccer fields and the age of the players.

A 2008 study found that the city had a 20-acre deficit in ball field space. That number is likely to be even higher, as city staff report that requests to use the city's ball fields have been increasing steadily over the past few years with the growth in popularity of soccer and other non-traditional sports such as lacrosse and rugby, which may also be played on the new fields.

The latest cost estimate for the fields is slightly over $10.5 million but the city has budgeted only $10,080,000 for the project. Public Works Director Mike Fuller said costs could be reduced by removing the playground and cutting the size of the 165-space parking lot, which requires a retaining wall against the adjacent Crittenden slope. Council members expressed some interest in reducing the parking lot, but no one wanted to remove the playground.

"We should not be cutting back on the playground," said council member Ronit Bryant. "If we need to find another $500,000 from somewhere to do it right, we need to do it right."

Bryant asked if the city had talked with nearby companies about the use of nearby parking lots during games, such as those across the street used by Google. Community Services Director David Muela said there had been no formal discussions with those companies, but said it was probably inevitable that people would use those lots. There would also be 25 parking spaces available along Garcia Avenue.

Using natural turf would save the city $675,000 in initial costs, but the council favored artificial turf in a study session the same night, with members noting that it would allow the fields to be used much more heavily. The artificial turf would have to be replaced every 10 years at a cost of $1 million, the city reports.

A handful of rare burrowing owls that like to live around the golf course will lose 6-acres of habitat where the owls are known to forage for insects and small rodents. To make up for that loss, the city set aside 9.7 acres elsewhere in the park for the owl, including 7.2 acres that were once freshwater ponds at the golf course, 2 acres near Shoreline Park's kite-flying area and a half-acre left on the southern end of the site. Those areas will be landscaped with grass, shrubs and rocks to attract small rodents and insects. The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, which has been working to save the owls, supported the plan.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by GC, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 16, 2011 at 10:08 am

There are lots of reason for natural grass. And one artificial salesman pushing for the other. Hear are a few.

Ground rubber tires are used in some artificial fields, yet because of their toxic content they are prohibited from being disposed of in landfills or ocean dumping. Where will this toxic material be disposed when a replacement field becomes necessary?

Temperatures on artificial fields have been documented to be upwards of 86.5 degrees hotter than natural grass fields under identical conditions. How long can players of all ages be safely exposed to this level of heat?

Field sanitation that includes the removal of bodily fluids and/or animal droppings present a unique problem for artificial fields. Will antiseptic cleaners properly sanitize field? If so, how often?

Abrasive surfaces such as artificial fields can result in difficult-to-heal injuries, particularly in the presence of bacterial or viral pathogens. Are you prepared to treat these wounds properly?

Field hardness on artificial surfaces can result in serious chronic or immediate athletic injury? If additional ground tire rubber is periodically added to soften the field, is toxicity of the material also renewed?

Natural turf is preferred by 88% of NFL players, and 96% believe that artificial turf contributes to injuries.

Natural turfgrass saves energy. The front lawns of eight houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning. That's amazing when the average home has an air conditioner with just a three or four ton capacity.

Green turfgrass significantly lowers fire hazard risk. How would an artificial turf field fire be fought quickly while minimizing the danger to fire fighters, and reducing the release of toxic fumes?

The initial price of artificial turf is many times greater than a natural turf area. Maintenance costs are equal or higher.

Natural turf lessens global warming by absorbing and sequestering carbon dioxide greenhouse gases.

What about artificial turf's carbon footprint? The tree planting offset requirements to achieve a 10-year carbon neutral synthetic turf installation for one field was estimated to be 1861 trees. That's right! 1861 trees need to be planted for every artificial turf field installed.


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