The new softball and soccer fields planned for development adjacent to the Old Spanish Trail Arena (OSTA) might not include green grass.
Faced with possible water shortages, officials are now considering installing artificial turf for the fields. That idea was discussed last week during a meeting of the Grand County Recreation Special Service District board of directors.
Grand County Council member Jim Nyland, the council’s liaison to the recreation district, said OSTA manager Steve Swift is investigating the cost of artificial turf.
“They see the concern and are looking at it,” Nyland said.
He added there is some time to research the issue because grass seeding isn’t likely to occur before this fall or spring of 2014. Nyland said OSTA has a private water well and is looking into whether it taps the aquifer that provides residential water in the area.
“They have an allocation at Ken’s Lake, but they only use it to water down the indoor arena and some trees,” Nyland said.
Because of the record low water level this year, Ken’s Lake irrigation water users’ normal allocation already has been cut in half, according to the Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency.
The lake held just 418 acre-feet of water on April 1 – about one-third of its average amount for that date in past years.
Mike Steele, chairman of the recreation district board, confirmed that purchasing artificial turf is a possibility despite its higher cost.
“The stuff is really pricey,” he said. “We’re concerned, like everyone, about water consumption. We’re looking at all our options, including real grass and keeping it alive with water.
“We’ve been told we have plenty of shares [of Ken’s Lake water]. But we’re not stupid. We’re looking at emergency backup options in case we have years like last year. We can’t call this year a drought yet, but it’s not looking good.”
OSTA Manager Steve Swift said he’s asked some companies for cost estimates for artificial turf, but hasn’t received the information yet. Like Steele, he said it would be expensive.
“One of the big issues with turf is the sand blowing over it, then you have to find some way to suck it off the turf,” Swift said, adding there are machines that do that although they’re costly.
“Then there’s the heat factor,” he added. “The heat buildup on turf is much greater than on grass.”
Also, Swift said some event organizers have asked OSTA to use the ball field areas when they are not in use.
“That might damage the turf,” he said.
As for water from Ken’s Lake, Swift said the amount OSTA has been using “doesn’t come anywhere close to what we are entitled.”
He also considered using water tanks to catch rainwater from the roof, but said he found the cost of large enough tanks was $100,000 and up.
The Grand County Council approved a conditional use permit last month to allow construction of the fields and other amenities, including a multi-use pavilion. The total construction cost has been placed at $2.1 million, although Steele said the final numbers are pending a check of the costs from sub-contractors.
The recreation district will operate the park and pay $1.2 million of construction costs, with the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board providing a $923,500 grant, according to a financial summary from Grand County staff. Grand County will own the park and its maintenance equipment.