Artificial turf may be the name of the game for a deteriorating sports field at Heather School, but players may have to wait more than a year to dig their cleats into it.
The San Carlos City Council voted 3-2 Monday in favor of studying the environmental effects of installing synthetic turf on the field, which is shared between the school and city sports teams.
While city leaders say state laws may only require a limited environmental study, neighbors who live near the school are pushing hard for a more extensive study — one that could delay turf installation for six months and cost the city more money.
“This is going to be a significant impact on our neighborhood,” said Katherine Tynan, chair of Heather Neighbors, who claimed residents fear synthetic turf will create added play hours, leading to traffic and noise. “We insist on a full [environmental review], and will move aggressively for it. It’s a very sensitive space.”
As part of Monday’s vote, the city set aside $50,000 for planning staff to study how a synthetic field could affect a number of issues, including traffic, noise and runoff. That study could take just a few months, while a full environmental review could take six months or longer, according to Community Development Director Al Savay.
“[Residents’] concerns are just concerns at this point — they’re not backed up with empirical evidence,” Savay said. “That’s part of the analysis that gets done.”
In addition, installing synthetic turf at Heather Field requires a new lease agreement between the city and the San Carlos School District, which must also approve a plan for synthetic turf.
Installing synthetic turf could take 565 days, including the environmental review period, compared with 300 days for natural grass, according to consultants with Callander Associates.
While the school board has not formally taken a stance on the debate between natural versus synthetic turf, Heather School Principal Pamela Jasso told The Examiner in May that synthetic turf would be a boon for the school, one that would allow students to play on the field in wet weather.
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