March 24, 2009



Thank you for your email regarding synthetic turf and the City’s sport fields.   I share your concerns about sustainability, public safety, and neighborhood livability.  


I asked Parks Bureau staff to address your specific concerns, and explain why they believe synthetic surfaces are a reasonable way to address some of the significant challenges Portland Parks & Recreation faces in meeting the increasing demands on our athletic facilities.

 

The supply of City-owned sports fields doesn’t begin to adequately serve the growing number of youth and adults wishing to play. As a result, many of our natural grass fields are over-used, and during the rainy season become full of divots and ruts, making them unsafe. 


We believe an appropriate mix of synthetic turf and natural grass fields citywide will allow us to satisfy the growing demand and provide a variety of safe and environmentally sound surfaces for Portlanders to play on.  


Responses to the specific concerns you raised are included below:






There is really no direct comparison between replacement of Parks sports fields and a professional sports franchise, such as the Qwest field you mentioned. Professional teams can budget for field replacement on a nearly annual basis. These replacements are as much cosmetic as they are to provide the highest safety possible for the multimillion dollar investment in their athletes. Discarded professional surfaces are nearly always donated to other facilities, such as schools and parks, for reuse.





The Bureau does not intend to replace all of its grass athletic fields with synthetic turf. They will be strategic, targeting their efforts on the highest use areas where grass cannot meet the demand, including parks adjacent to high schools, regional parks and or tournament level facilities. We believe an appropriate mix of synthetic turf and natural grass fields will allow us to satisfy the growing demand and provide a variety of surfaces for Portlanders to play on. 


Thanks again for your e-mail.


Sincerely,



Nick Fish

Parks Commissioner