Artificial turf field grant in limbo

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The fate of a city-owned artificial turf field proposal is in question.

The Steamboat Springs City Council must decide soon what to do with a $150,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado. The grant was intended to contribute to the cost of building an artificial turf field between Christian Heritage School and the Heritage Park subdivision.

The deadline for completing the project is Dec. 1. The city could request an extension of 90 days that would allow for finishing construction in 2007.

Linda Kakela, the city's director of intergovernmental services, discussed the grant during the council's last regular meeting. She said the council had two options: They could return the grant and reapply in a future round or keep the grant and use it at one of three sites. Those sites are the Heritage Park area, Steamboat Springs School District property or a city-owned location.

The project, which, as proposed last fall, would accommodate field and diamond sports, has been stalled in part by cost. The city estimated the cost of building the field would be $250,000; the lowest bid was $492,000. Several members of the previous council said they were concerned about the cost.

Also, residents' concerns were an issue. Residents of the Heritage Park neighborhood told the council that they were worried about noise and hours of operation at the proposed field.

City staff members have been meeting with neighbors to discuss the field, which may change in scope and location. Ty Lockhart and Christian Heritage Foundation officials have taken the original location out of consideration, Lockhart said Wednesday. Lockhart, the owner of two other parcels north of the school, also has eliminated one of those parcels.

However, Lockhart said he was interested in building a field on the lot northwest of the school. The lot is adjacent to soccer fields. Lockhart said he would consider building a turf soccer field with no ball diamond on the site.

That field could be 320 feet long and 205 feet wide, said Chris Wilson, the city's director of parks, open space and recreational services. That is big enough for adult regulation games. Wilson said an estimated cost of this type of field is $481,600.

The last time the council discussed the field, members voted unanimously to not move forward with it. Instead, they wanted to review the possibility of building the field on Steamboat Springs School District property.

However, the district now has its own plans for building a field. The Steamboat Springs School Board gave final approval for an artificial surface on Gardner Field in May.

During the council's meeting, council President Ken Brenner said, "I have problems with this."

The school will install turf on Gardner Field, he said, and he had doubts about the need to build two turf fields in one year. Also, Brenner said, he was feeling unsure about using city money to build a turf field out of town.

Brenner suggested the city offer the grant money to school district officials, and if they don't want it, another site should be found.

Council member Steve Ivancie said that the council should "do its homework" on where the field belongs and work to build it in that location.

"I would like to see a second artificial turf field in this community," he said.

Council member Susan Del-

linger said that the time frame is so tight the city should return the grant money.

The council did not give Kakela direction about what to do. Members agreed to table the issue until their June 6 meeting, when city staff will give an update on discussions with Heritage Park residents.

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