Pair of playing fields to get artificial turf

Catonsville High stadium and a park in Lutherville chosen

May 02, 2006|By LIZ F. KAY .. | LIZ F. KAY ..,SUN REPORTER

Playing fields in Catonsville and Lutherville will soon boast artificial turf as part of a pilot project paid for with county and state money, county officials and local legislators announced yesterday.

County parks officials plan to install artificial turf at the Catonsville High School stadium and at a field in Lutherville's Seminary Park. The county will pay $2 million, with state money raised through a bond sale making up the remaining $400,000.

A synthetic-grass field could ease the demand for playing fields because it could be used continuously without needing a rest between seasons to allow grass to recover, officials said. County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said yesterday that an artificial-turf field would be easier to maintain than one of natural grass.

Catonsville High School Principal Robert M. Tomback said at the news conference yesterday that members of his school's booster club had discussed the sad condition of the stadium field at every meeting of the group for the 11 years he has been principal.

"Not one discussion of our field has come up without someone saying, `I wish ... ', and today our wish has come true," he said.

Baltimore County parks officials hope to coordinate with Howard County, which has synthetic-turf fields, to create a regional agreement to replace the Catonsville and Lutherville fields, said county spokesman Donald I. Mohler.

"That will put these projects on the fast track," he said. Mohler said he did not want to raise hopes unnecessarily but expected the fields could be installed in time for the fall season or, at the latest, spring.

"The best-case scenario is football, the worst-case scenario, lacrosse," he said.

The companies that make and install artificial turf guarantee the products for more than 15 years, Mohler said. Parks officials hope to phase in one or two a year, he said.

After artificial turf is installed, Catonsville High will be able to open the stadium field to recreational sports, said booster club President Sue Plitt.

Recreational sports are restricted to other fields to preserve the stadium field for high school teams. But the stadium has lights, so games could be played after sunset, Plitt said.

Officials lauded the community effort that secured the funding. The boosters, as well as the Catonsville Recreation and Parks Council, supported passage of the $400,000 bond issue for the project at the high school.

The county would pay $1.2 million for the Lutherville field and $800,000 toward the Catonsville field.

Catonsville Middle School eighth-grader Nick Gallina, a lacrosse goalie for a recreation council team, said after the announcement that the fields on which his team plays now are "pretty much all dirt."

"The areas that do have grass are all clumpy," he said.

Players sometimes fall and land on rocks, he said. He said he has seen glass on fields, and the grass is slippery and muddy after it rains.

Nick said he has played on artificial-turf fields at Howard County's Rockburn Branch Park and at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. They are far superior, he said.

Proponents say that newer synthetic turf is different from earlier versions that were said to cause injury. One of the newer types, called FieldTurf, is used in Howard County and consists of artificial "blades" supported by rubberized pellets that provide more cushion.

Professional football players prefer FieldTurf to the first incarnation of artificial playing surfaces, said Carl Francis, a National Football League Players Association spokesman.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.