Parks and Rec Board Discuss Replacing Grass With Artificial Turf at Brace Canyon Ballfield

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On Thursday September 8th, the Parks and Recreation Board held their regularly-scheduled monthly meeting.

Brace Canyon Park and it’s ballfield was the main topic of discussion during the meeting. The ballfield, which is located and built on top of a large reservoir of clean water, is currently a large grassy field.

Due to it’s location on top of a water reservoir, the city is not allowed to use fertilizer in order to support the growth of the existing grass. There is a worry that using fertilizer could contaminate the water supply underneath the field. Additionally, the water used to irrigate the ballfield can’t be recycled water, forcing the city to reconsider the feasibility of having grass in the first place.

In their budget for the fiscal year of 2019-2020, Burbank City Council noted and filed the idea of removing the grass and replacing it with artificial turf. In November 2021, council approved the selection of Verde Design Inc. to come up with an artificial turf solution.

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

However, like other artificial turfs, IronTurf is made out of plastic. Furthermore, artificial turf has been shown to further the “heat island effect” already present in urban and suburban areas. When it gets very hot out, touching artificial turf can be comparable to touching an asphalt road, leading to possibility of serious injury during use.

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

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

Replacement of the grass would cost around $500,000 each time it is done. Additionally, the field would continue to require watering from clean, drinkable water, further straining Burbank’s limited supply of clean water.

In discussing the potential for an artificial turf at Brace, the board weighed the environmental issues of artificial turf alongside the economic and utility concerns of maintaining a grass field. Ultimately, the board decided to note and file the agenda item in order to receive feedback and discussion from city council.