San Carlos reverses direction on turf plan

Plans to install a brand-new grass field at Highlands Park have been benched while city officials open talks with the San Carlos School District to pursue long-term leases and synthetic turf at one or more school athletic fields.

New grass on fields at Highlands was identified as a top priority in May after a series of public meetings aimed at finding new practice space for youth in San Carlos and adult sports teams. But the City Council reversed its stance Aug. 28 after realizing the project — which involved replacing the existing sandy substrate with soil — would cost $2.3 million and not increase playing time for local athletes.

Instead, city officials will begin meeting with San Carlos School District officials this month todiscuss installing synthetic turf at Heather School and Tierra Linda and Central Middle Schools. The city has a long-term lease for Heather’s fields, but not at Central or Tierra Linda, where district construction will encroach on one existing field, according to Ron Little, business official for the school district.

San Carlos officials opted not to install synthetic turf at Highlands, which has the city’s most-used athletic fields, after neighbors protested the increased traffic and noise associated with more intense use of the park.

Meanwhile, Redwood City is getting ready to install synthetic turf on the Griffin/Bechet, McGarvey and Mitchell fields at Red Morton Park starting this month. The project, estimated at $4 million, is expected to save money on maintenance and water, according to Peter Vorametsanti, senior civil engineer with the city.

Redwood City has already converted some fields to synthetic turf, to resounding success.

“Most of the users prefer synthetic turf,” Vorametsanti said. “It’s a much better environment, in terms of availability of the field.” Neighbors have not complained about increased traffic near those fields, he added.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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