The city is building a new park and a decision has to be made soon about what to put on the park’s two soccer fields.
Russellville received $1.5 million from the state Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet in 2007 to build the new park. The funds were taken from a multi-million dollar settlement between the state who sued Rockwell International Corp., a long-serving industry in Russellville who released Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) into the environment.
At a meeting held Nov. 3, the council voted not to accept a bid for $457,601 to place artificial turf on the two soccer fields. At that meeting, Councilman Lanny McPherson said sand-based Bermuda grass would be more cost efficient than turf. He also worried about the burden turf may put on the taxpayers in 10 to 11 years when it may need to be replaced.
At a unofficial gathering held Nov. 17 between the mayor and three of his council members more discussion showed there may not be enough funds to finish the park if turf is purchased; however, mayor Gene Zick holds steadfast to leaving that up to the donation process.
At a regularly scheduled meeting held Tuesday, McPherson said after researching sand-based Bermuda grass further he didn’t think the city needed to go in that direction either.
“After talking to more people about sand-based Bermuda grass, I have found it is not one we can use,” said McPherson adding, “There are several problems with sand-based grass one being there are no specifications. There are hundreds of combinations. I talked to Dr. Powell at the University of Kentucky and he said we should choose between artificial turf or natural grass.”
McPherson said his biggest focus was finishing the park.
“If the council decides to go with artificial turf we need to keep in mind finishing as much of the park as we can,” said McPherson who told the mayor he appreciated all the hard work he had put forth on the project.
Zick gave a brief overview of the project Tuesday and presented a slideshow which showed costs for certain grasses. According to Zick it would cost approximately $400,000 to put in sand-based Bermuda grass and $322,600 for natural grass which could cost $75,000 a year in maintenance costs.
Zick reiterated that the council was on board for the turf over a year ago when the price was coming in at $7 a square foot. “We are almost getting two soccer fields for the price of one now at $4 a square foot,” said Zick adding that the reason to put the turf on the fields along with a softball field on the other side of the park, was for added environmental protection from possible PCBs.
Zick agreed the park needed to be self-sufficient and said funds to maintain the turf would need to be obtained through a percentage from tournaments and concessions and placed in a reserve account.
Cathy Maroney, the city’s park’s and rec director spoke Tuesday about a discussion she had with Roy Sayer, turf manager for the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Maroney said Sayer told her natural grass was more cost efficient but “time intensive” and required fertilizing and watering through the year.
Gabe Atkins, manager of Hibbitts Sports told the council Tuesday he had spoken with Shaun Goldburn director of the SKY Football Club in Bowling Green who said if Russellville didn't want the money he would be happy to take it and have an artificial turf field in Bowling Green.
“We have an opportunity to bring something absolutely unique to this area and I can’t see a reason not to do it,” said Atkins.
“Everybody I talked with said that the price we were getting for the turf was a good deal. But we need to ask ourselves if we can afford to do it and finish the park. If we can than we need to move forward,” said McPherson. “We owe it to the taxpayers to investigate all options,” he said.
Zick said as soon as it dries he will take soil samples at the request of McPherson to check the nutrients in the soil. “I’m going to get specs on natural grass next,” said Zick who believes this will prolong the soccer fields even further.