Artificial Turf versus Natural Grass: An artificial presentation
At the last Council meeting the Administration trotted out Jim Mallon to make its case for spending $1.2 million on artificial turf at Carey Field. Let’s examine the issue in a fair and more complete way.
1) Please Mr. Mallon be complete and be fair. You state the grass needs to be replaced every other year at a cost of $90,000. Not true. The wear and tear on the grass is confined between the hash marks which are approximately 22 1/2 ft wide. Give us a ten year history of grass replacement. Under mayor Perrillo the city used to reseed between the hash marks or just sod. Consequently, I solicited Tuckahoe Turf Farms for a proposal for our field. The attached proposal from Tuckahoe Turf Farms addressed to Ocean City is $13,400 for between the hash marks (20,000 sq ft) and $40,200 for the whole field (60,000 sq ft). Even if you replaced the entire field ever year for ten years (which is unnecessary) it would still be 1/3 the cost of the $1.2 million before interest.
If artificial turf is more cost effective why was the small field at the corner of 6th and Bay sodded?
2) Councilman McClellan asked one of the few legitimate questions, “what is the maintenance cost of artificial turf? No answer. How about vacuuming? How about repair? How about the health concerns? The simple truth is artificial turf requires man hours of care. It is not maintenance free. How much?
3) where is CFO Donato’s financial analysis comparing initial capital outlay and interest cost and maintenance of artificial turf versus the correct replacement of grass between the hash marks. You trot out Mr. Donato when you want to raise beach tags prices by explaining all the costs to operate clean and protected beaches, but you hide him otherwise. This is clearly a sign of people who are afraid of the facts.
Mr. Mallon cites washington township having 40 percent less injuries after installing the turf. Sample size? I’ll go with the NFL where the outdoor stadiums have real grass. Levi Field, the newest stadium has real grass. Mr. Mallon artificial turf is “faster”than real grass. Higher velocity is more dangerous.
Mr. Mallon’s answer reflected a lack of homework. Check how much we are charging the semi- pro soccer team for using the field – nothing. You can sit people on a grass field and have concerts and other events. When was the last time the field was used for that? We are being asked to believe in imaginary revenue.
If you plan on having soccer, lacrosse or field hockey games at Carey Field, that would be a mistake. Our teams get energy at their current fields from the Ocean City spectators. There is nothing worse than having an event where the venue is too big – you lose the energy and our home field advantage.
In sum, council and the Mayor have taken an initial first step with inadequate, incomplete and inaccurate information. Mr. Mallon at the Mayor’s request is the administration’s point guy. His performance and the Administration’s is an embarrassment. For Council to vote on what was clearly incomplete information is astonishing. I know this is all part of our well thought capital planning. Hardly. The handling of the facts by the Administration in this matter is a sign of ineptitude and deceit. It took me one phone call – 15 minutes to defeat the cost justification of artificial turf. That is sad.