Artificial selection

Parks and Recreation Board discuss replacing grass with artificial turf at Brace Canyon ball diamond

On Thursday, September 8, the Parks and Recreation Commission held its regular monthly meeting.

Brace Canyon Park and its ball diamond were the main topic of discussion during the meeting. The ball field, which is located and built over a large clean water tank, is currently a large grass field.

Due to its location above a water reservoir, the town is not permitted to use fertilizers in order to support existing grass growth. It is feared that the use of fertilizers could contaminate the water supply below the field. Additionally, the water used to irrigate the ballpark cannot be recycled water, forcing the city to reconsider having grass in the first place.

In its budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the Burbank City Council noted and tabled the idea of ​​removing the grass and replacing it with artificial turf. In November 2021, the board approved the selection of Verde Design Inc. to provide an artificial grass solution.

During a presentation to the Parks and Recreation Board, city staff recommended “IronTurf”. IronTurf is a variety of artificial turf that avoids the use of toxic chemicals found in many other artificial turfs.

However, like other artificial grasses, IronTurf is made of plastic. Additionally, artificial turf has been shown to promote the “heat island effect” already present in urban and suburban areas. In very hot weather, touching artificial turf can be comparable to touching an asphalt road, which can lead to serious injury during use.

According to city staff, an IronTurf field would reduce maintenance costs by nearly 80%. The lawn only needs to be “watered” once a week for cleaning purposes. The total cost to replace the pitch with artificial turf would be approximately $3 million.

Despite the fact that the city is not allowed to use fertilizer or recycled water to maintain the land, there is still an option to renovate the land with grass. This option, however, would be very expensive due to the need to replace the turf every three to four years.

Replacing the grass would cost around $500,000 each time. Additionally, the field would continue to require irrigation from clean, potable water, further straining Burbank’s limited clean water supply.

In discussing the potential of an artificial turf at Brace, the board weighed the environmental issues of artificial turf as well as the economic and utilitarian concerns of maintaining a grass pitch. In the end, council decided to mark and file the agenda item in order to receive comments and discussion from council.