At its March 28 meeting, City Council’s Public Safety Committee agreed that replacement of the artificial turf with a crumb rubber infill at the JB Lewis Soccer Complex should move forward.
The next step would be for the City to issue a request for proposal (RFP) to replace the aging and worn turf. Once a bid is selected it would go before City Council for approval.
At the Public Safety meeting, Parks & Recreation Director Roderick Simmons gave an introductory presentation to the committee, made up of council members Cecil Bothwell, Brian Haynes and Julie Mayfield. Simmons outlined the turf situation and options for replacement, including the fact that some type of the organic materials are not suited to this particular location, as it is in a flood plain. They will not stay in place during flood events and would float into the river.
Simmons then introduced Ryan Teeter of LDD Sports, chosen by the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association as the engineer for the turf replacement project. Teeter’s presentation highlighted many safety aspects of the turf replacement options. The committee members asked several questions, including about an upcoming EPA study about a potential carcinogenic link to exposure to crumb rubber.
Crumb rubber safety was addressed in Simmons’ report and Teeter’s presentation. Limited studies have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb, but the existing studies do not comprehensively evaluate the concerns about health risks from exposure to tire crumb. The EPA has developed a Tire Crumb and Synthetic Turf Field Literature and Report List (November 2015). It is an extensive, although not exhaustive, survey of the literature from the past 12 years.
Michael Rottjakob, of the ABYSA, followed up Teeter’s presentation with information about how ABYSA has supported the fields over the years, raising money to install lights, for example. He requested that the City move forward with a crumb rubber infill turf replacement for the cushioning safety it provides to athletes on the fields.
In October, ABYSA was awarded $1.1 million in funding from the Tourism Product Development Fund Committee (TPDF) requested by ABYSA for the soccer fields’ turf replacement. Cost of turf replacement at all four fields is estimated at approximately $2.3 million.
Original story (Feb. 29, 2016)
To everything there is a season. Even artificial turf. As durable as it is, it wears out.
And that is the case with the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex (JBL) in east Asheville’s Azalea Park. Replacing turf on the four-field facility poses challenges and opportunities.
The challenge is to swap out the turf in a way that minimizes disruption of play for the nearly 5,000 children who participate in the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association (ABYSA) programs and will provide a safe and reliable play environment for the next decade of park users.
“The City is dedicated to ensuring safety for our children and all users of the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex. Advances in turf technology over the past decade gives us an opportunity to upgrade this facility,” said Roderick Simmons, Asheville’s Parks & Recreation Director. “Maintaining high-use facilities such as this one is part of our mission to be good stewards of City amenities.”
With nearly 5,000 children participating each year, ABYSA Soccer is the largest program on the fields. But other groups play there too, ranging from ultimate Frisbee enthusiasts to local lacrosse teams and Warren Wilson College’s athletic programs. Disc golf players and casual “pick up play” users, playing a whole host of field sports, make frequent use of the fields.
In October, the Tourism Product Development Fund Committee (TPDF) voted to approve $1.1 million in funding requested by ABYSA for the soccer fields’ turf replacement. Cost of turf replacement at all four fields is estimated at approximately $2.3 million. The City budgeted for the turf replacement beginning Fiscal Year 2015-2016 at $600,000 per year in the Capital Improvement Budget, which allows one field replacement per year for the next four years.
Now comes the time for ABYSA to partner with the City to select a turf product to meet the unique characteristics of the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex, located in a floodplain. User safety, environmental friendliness, durability, and play quality are the important priorities that will guide product selection.
“The $1.1 million grant awarded to ABYSA by the TPDF was based on the hotel nights that soccer tournaments and other events produce,” said Mike Rottjakob, ABYSA Executive Director.
Sports tourism events utilizing the JBL Soccer Complex will generate over 11.000 documented hotel room night stays this year alone.
“The relationship is a win-win-win for the TDF, ABYSA and the City,” Rottjakob said. “The facility generates lodging industry benefit and economic impact benefit for the City and provides citizens thousands of hours of heathy activity and fun year-round.”
Timeline for replacement
- Consulting engineer will provide the City and ABYSA with recommended product specifications for the project.
- Consulting engineers and City staff will give a presentation to the Recreation Board, 12:30 p.m. March 14.
- Consulting engineers and City staff will give a presentation to the Public Safety Committee, 3:30 p.m. March 28.
- City staff will package the specification for bidding.
- Turf replacement contract is expected to be awarded May.
- Only one or two fields will be offline at a time during construction, to minimize disruption to players and leagues.
- The construction will be completed by November.
The City of Asheville will partner with ABYSA and a sports facility engineering consultant to make sure any material we use on the fields, above all, is safe. The City will access the best data available nationwide before we make a turf replacement decision, researching the latest best practices for safe turf replacement that take evolving technology into consideration.
“The City and ABYSA are committed to installing a turf product that is safe for our players and other park users from multiple safety standpoints,” said Rottjakob. He pointed out that the safety of the materials themselves is important but so are other performance characteristics related to lower body extremity injuries such as ACL tears and impact injuries like concussions.
In terms of the timeline Rottjakob said summer is the ideal window for replacing the turf. “Our hope is that we could start the second week of May and be done by the mid-August,” said Rottjakob, calling that a “best-case scenario in a perfect world.”
The results of a comprehensive professional engineering package will be used to guide the decision in determining the material to be used.
Environmental integrity of the replacement turf will be a factor considered as well, as the soccer fields are located in a floodplain adjacent to the Swannanoa River.
Look for updates on this project, including a project page on the City of Asheville website. For more information, contact Asheville Parks & Recreation Director Roderick Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-259-5808.