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Christine Metz

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City moves forward with artificial field

Soil tests completed Monday marked the first step in design work on Northwest Colorado’s first artificial turf field.

Large equipment was being used on the land next to the Christian Heritage School for soil samples that will help the city know what can and can not be done on the proposed artificial turf field. The city is working on a soils report and plans to put out to bid the design and construction work for the field, City Director of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Chris Wilson said.

Because the proposed field would be the first of its kind in Northwest Colorado, Wilson is guessing the bid will go to an out-of-town company, which then will subcontract much of the work to local businesses, Wilson said. The city hopes to start construction on the field this summer.

The cost of the field is projected to cost between $300,000 and $350,000. Earlier this month, the city accepted a $150,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to help with the field. The city is working on a long-term lease with the school for the land under the field.

The city leases land for two nearby Heritage Park fields for $1 a year.

The field is proposed to go between the east side of the school and the west side of the Heritage Park subdivision.

Residents in Heritage Park have expressed concerns about the proposed field and the added noise, traffic and lighting it could bring.

Wilson said the county long ago had approved the use of land for a playing field and that, that approval does not allow the use of light. Without field lights, the field would get less use than the Ski Town and Howelsen parks ball fields.

Wilson said the city hopes to hold public meetings throughout the design process so residents can give feedback on the plans.

“The city is a good neighbor, we work very hard to be a good neighbor, and we will continue to be a good neighbor,” Wilson said.

As proposed, the size of the artificial turf field would accommodate junior play. The dimensions meet the requirements for 15-year-old and younger softball and baseball leagues and 10- to 11-year-old and younger soccer leagues, Wilson said.

One of the greatest draws for an artificial turf field would be its availability for spring use, when most other fields will be covered in snow or too soggy for play.

Many times during the spring, teams practice on plowed parking lots and inside gyms waiting for the snow to melt, Wilson said. He hopes the snow on the artificial turf field will melt sooner and be easier to remove than the traditional grass fields.

“The moment a field comes out under the snow and until the moment it is back under the snow, it is busy,” Wilson said of the city’s field usage.

When the turf field is not scheduled for city use, Wilson said it would be opened to the public for recreational use.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com