Memo for fiscal year 2019, updated 2018-04-03

[Archived] Question #53: What plans does the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities have to install new or replacement artificial fields?


What plans does the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities have to install new or replacement artificial fields?


Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities (RPCA) began an in-depth research initiative on artificial fields in 2009.  That research experience demonstrated that one artificial field can meet the same demand as four natural turf fields. Rectangular fields provide playing space for football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, and ACPS sports and physical education classes. To meet the current sport league demand the City would need 21 additional natural turf fields to replace the synthetic field system. The next two conversions from natural turf to synthetic turf are Joseph Hensley and Patrick Henry (funded in FY 2018). After these two, there are no new fields planned in the proposed 10-year CIP. Projects planned in the Athletic Field Improvements Including Synthetic Turf Capital Improvement Project are based on the community generated Citywide Parks Improvement Plan (2014) and the Neighborhood Parks Improvements Plan (2016). 

The CIP contains projects for both synthetic and natural turf field improvements. The technology of artificial field systems is constantly improving. RPCA makes changes with each project to maintain acceptable safety and health standards. The standard for the new CIP projects consists of installing an infill blend of non-recycled rubber and sand. This is an upgrade to the previous crumb rubber infill product. Additional CIP work includes facility improvements at natural grass fields such as grading and drainage, backstop replacements, dugout replacements, press box and concessions structures, sports team storage structures, fencing and netting improvements, storm water management, and natural grass turf improvements. 

In 2015, the Alexandria Health Department released a review of crumb rubber in synthetic turf playing fields in which the research found no definitive link between crumb rubber infill material and health problems. In April 2017, the Washington State Department of Health conducted a study on Investigation of Reported Cancer among Soccer Players in Washington State. The report conclusion states that “the currently available research on the health effects of artificial turf does not suggest that artificial turf presents a significant public health risk and that the Washington State Department of Health recommends that people who enjoy soccer continue to play irrespective of the type of field surface.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began studying crumb rubber in 2016 and a report is anticipated mid-2018.

The following table details the planned uses of funding for the Athletic Field Improvements Project, over the next ten fiscal years: 

BMQ - 53 - Athletic Fields Replacement

Additional details on specific projects in the Athletic Field Improvement Project for FY 2019 – FY 2021 can be found in Budget Question #14

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