- Arlington Sports Foundation contributes $180,000 to help pay costs
- Conversion to add nearly 880 new possible playing hours
- Second synthetic diamond field in Arlington
A grant from the Arlington Sports Foundation will help the County convert a softball field at Gunston Park to synthetic turf – adding nearly 880 new possible playing hours to the popular field.
The Arlington County Board authorized the County Manager to accept $180,000 from the Arlington Sports Foundation and use $190,000 from the Diamond Field Fund to convert the Gunston Park Diamond Athletic Field #1 to synthetic turf.
“Both the number of people playing sports in Arlington, and the hours our fields are in use continue to grow. We need creative solutions to meet the demand,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “Kudos to the Arlington Sports Foundation and the sports community for helping fund the conversion of Gunston’s field and expand its community use without increasing taxpayer support.”
Saw a need; offered to help
Gunston Park Diamond Athletic Field #1 was approved for a $1.433 million capital maintenance project as part of the FY 2016 Pay-As-You-Go budget adoption. As the project came forward during that process, the Arlington Sports Foundation proposed helping the County meet the costs of converting the field from natural grass to synthetic turf to allow for year-round play. The conversion would add nearly 880 new possible playing hours to the field. The Foundation raised $180,000 of the $370,000 needed for the conversion. The Arlington Sports Commission recommended allocating $190,000 from the Arlington County Diamond Field Fund for the project.
The Board voted 5 to 0 to accept the foundation funding, and to use $190,000 from the County’s Diamond Field Fund to convert the field. To read the staff report on this item, view the agenda for the April 22, 2016 Regular County Board Meeting. Scroll down to Item No.29.
The County’s Sports Commission considered the Arlington Sports Foundation’s proposed donation in October 2016. The County held a public meeting in November 2016 on the proposal. Both the Sports Commission and a majority of participants at the community meeting expressed support for pursuing the conversion, if the Arlington Sports Foundation could raise the funds to cover the additional expense.
About Arlington’s synthetic turf fields
Arlington uses an infill product in its synthetic turf fields made from ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), a synthetic rubber manufactured specifically for the purpose of synthetic turf infill. EPDM is already in used in the fields at the Williamsburg/Discovery School campus and Greenbrier Park. The County’s Public Health Division and the Department of Parks and Recreation are actively engaged in ensuring that the County’s synthetic turf fields meet current health standards.
The County continues to monitor research in this area as safety is our prime objective. At the national level, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to study infill made from recycled tires. At this time, all independent studies report that “the preponderance of evidence shows no negative health effects associated with crumb rubber in synthetic turf.”
Sports field conversion
The project, as initially scoped, would have replaced the diamond grass field with a new grass field while bringing it up to current standards. Lighting was to be upgraded, the field was to be made ADA accessible, and stormwater mitigation added along with new furnishings and other amenities.
Next steps will be to update the design for a synthetic turf field and request proposals from vendors for construction.
About the Arlington Sports Foundation
The Arlington Sports Foundation is a non-profit founded in 2009 to enhance opportunities for youth in Arlington to play sports. In March 2014 the County Board adopted the Diamond Field Fund Policy that outlines the process for allocating funds collected through field fund assessments. To learn more about the Diamond Field Fund, visit parks.arlingtonva.us, search Diamond Field Fund.