Why I voted No on Bendel’s Proposal for Turf?

I have gotten several emails inquiring about my vote regarding turf and I wanted to clairfy any confusion about my involvement with field sports.

In 2012, I did propose for two additional fields to be added to our current field use.  These fields would have been in Robb Hollow.  We have discussed various versions of a Robb Hollow Plan but one of the initial plans was one full size (eco-friendly turf) in the area where the leaf grinding takes place and the other (jr. field) near public works near the corner of Cedar/Gilkeson.  Two new field areas.

I supported this for many reasons:

  • Robb Hollow plan would have been an expensive project, but far less than a complex at McNeilly.  With McNeilly we were looking at $6 million for a field complex only and I was willing to spend $2/2.5 million on Robb Hollow park that could be used for all residents of Mt Lebanon.
  • Robb Hollow plan would have not just been a field sports plan with the two new fields.  It would have included enhanced trail use around the park, adding outdoor classroom space for all ages/uses, and providing new access points to the park in various spaces and a dog park.
  • Also new fields meant no interrupted play.
  • This plan would have been an excellent use of private/public partnerships and we could have offered a highly visible area for marketing of sponsors on Cedar/Gilkeson.

I could not get the majority of support from my peers and the project did not go any further.

Early in 2013, I spoke individually with both Commissioners Brumfield and Bendel about other potential turf project locations.  Wildcat/Middle and Mellon were two projects that became consistent locations.  I raised my concerns about both projects, but did find that Mellon would be my preference over Wildcat/Middle.

I believe we are close to “overusing” Main Park.  We definitely don’t have the ample parking needed to host ice rink, pool and park activites plus add more use of our fields.   We added parking along Cedar recently, but that will not address the increase of field use for turf.  I also still believe that Wildcat/Middle are the municipality’s best fields and it wouldn’t make sense to turf them.

Several items concerned me about Commission Bendel’s proposal.  The proposal does not guarantee eco-friendly turf and the answers Commissioner Bendel gave from my questions confirmed that eco-friendly is not a guarantee if the cost is higher.  I still have great concerns about the health of those that use the traditional turf.

Maintenance Plan is clearly not established.  I would have expected more than a simple conversation between a staff person with the School District and Municipality.  The Municipal Manager/Public Works Director and leadership with the School District should have had a joint meeting and been able to supply a comprehensive maintenance plan before the Commissioner’s vote.

Last and more importantly, I really had some concerns about committing to this project when we had committed to a Recreation Bond that included the pool, Rehabilitation of Robb Hollow and Golf Course project.  I believe we should have followed through on these committments for the Recreation Bond with unassigned funds rather than tying up these funds for the turf project.

Commissioner Bendel’s proposal has some key elements that I supported, including private funding and the potential for eco-friendly turf but the proposal as a whole was not something I could support.

John Bendel’s proposal  Field Enhancement Proposal

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