Memorial Field turf decision made

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SANDPOINT — Almost all natural rubber is made from the latex that comes from a tree species called Hevea brasiliensis, widely known as the rubber tree.

“This is a purely natural product,” said Dell Hatch with Bernardo Wills Architects, as he described the natural rubber and cork infill option for artificial turf.

After looking at six different natural infill options, City Council members voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve the natural rubber and cork mix for the artificial turf that will be installed at Memorial Field this summer.

Council members approved the design concept for Memorial Field proposed by the city’s consultants, GreenPlay, LLC, in October, which includes artificial turf among a number of other improvements. A professional services agreement with Bernardo Wills Architects was subsequently approved by council in November to complete the design for Memorial Field.

The consultants were instructed by city officials to look at natural infill options only and a matrix was developed comparing six different options — natural rubber and cork, cellulose fibers, cork, olive pits/walnut shells, corkonut and wood. The matrix compares heat reduction, added maintenance, ease of cleaning, warranty and costs among other variables.

Hatch briefly described each of the options on Wednesday, and said every one of the products claims to reduce the heat that is associated with artificial turf by at least 10 degrees. While each had their advantages and disadvantages, Hatch said the recommended option was the natural rubber and cork with its low maintenance, ease of cleaning, good drainage and more.

“It also happens to be the lowest price,” Hatch said.

The cost of the natural rubber and cork infill is $2.39 per square foot, for a total cost of $348,580. The most expensive of the six options was the olive pits and walnut shells at $3.15 per square foot. Because of the city’s desire to use a natural infill, Hatch said the cost is higher for all of the options than it would be for black rubber, which runs about $1 per square foot.

The city contracted with GreenPlay, LLC, in April to lead a Parks and Recreation master planning effort, which includes site-specific designs for five properties — City Beach, the downtown waterfront, War Memorial Field, the sports complex (Travers, Centennial and Great Northern parks), and the city-owned watershed. GreenPlay and its subcontractor, Bernardo Wills Architects, conducted an updated field analysis and feasibility review of the turf at Memorial Field and the sports complex as part of their scope of work. They also held several focus groups, stakeholder and community meetings. As a result of these efforts, GreenPlay and Bernardo Wills Architects developed the design concept for War Memorial Field that was presented to the community and Sandpoint City Council at their Oct. 2 meeting.

The design concept incorporated their recommendation of an artificial turf field and other site improvements to maximize usability of the park space — including water access/recreation — and reduce impacts on the neighborhood. According to the statement, it was noted during GreenPlay’s presentations that the diverse activities of the Festival at Sandpoint and sports play on a natural surface, particularly given the short period of transition time of one to three weeks, were incompatible for appropriate maintenance, safety and health of a natural field surface. Council approved the design concept with artificial turf field and other improvements on Oct. 16, followed by a professional services agreement with Bernardo Wills Architects on Nov. 20 to complete the design for Memorial Field.

The final design of the field improvements is scheduled to be completed by February 2020 with a construction contract expected to be awarded in March. The field construction is planned to accommodate the Festival by July 31, and playable use of the fields in August.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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