Q&A 2005

Our end-of-the-year compilation of questions and answers is always a big hit,

particularly since so many of the Q&As have universal application.

Furthermore, the following Q&As represent a year’s worth of troubleshooting

and lessons learned, often the hard way, hands-on, with the hope

that each contributor’s experience will make the way smoother for you.

If you get a chance, and you’ve been helped by any of this year’s contributors

to the annual Q&A feature, please drop them a line and let them know.

And, let us know if you have any questions you’d like to have answered and

we’ll do our best to find one for you, and publish it for others who might have

the same question.

We’ve divided this year’s Q&As into our four general editorial categories—

parks + playgrounds, grounds + sports turf, everything H2O and sports + fitness

+ recreation—plus a special category devoted to management + mission.

If you have any questions or comments along the way, or would like to contribute

your own experiences, please send us an e-mail at editor@northstarpubs.

com or go

to www.parksandrecbusiness.com. Thanks again...

Q: Is there a difference in cost of a synthetic

turf installation vs. an irrigated

blue grass turf installation?

A: Yes. In the Denver area synthetic turf

costs approximately three times more to

install than irrigated blue grass turf.


we feel that we will be able to amortize

the additional costs in six to eight years

through the following factors:

By using

synthetic turf there is a significant reduction

in the amount of maintenance hours

per field, materials needed (paint) to line

fields, no fertilizer, no irrigation supplies,

no weed control, no aeration, no water

costs and no mowing.

In doing the calculations

on amortization we used present

water rates and present usage rates, but

we expect water rates to rise significantly

in the next ten years and we presently

use our irrigated turf fields about seven

months per year and are using our synthetic

turf 12 months per year, which will

account for an additional five months

of revenue.

We also charge a 25 percent

higher use fee for the synthetic turf fields.

We feel that all of these factors combined

will actually help to amortize the additional

synthetic turf costs at a much higher

rate than projected.

Randy Burkhardt is a landscape

architect employed by Douglas County as

the parks and trails planner. Randy is scheduled

to give related presentations at Parks &

Rec Business LIVE! at Deer Creek State

Park, near Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 19-20.

Q: Has the irrigated blue grass turf in

your park system benefited from the use

of synthetic turf?

A: Yes. We expected the irrigated turf to

begin to recover when we removed the

majority of the soccer and football use,

but were pleasantly surprised by how fast

the turf recovered and how we are now

able to keep our irrigated turf fields in

good condition with much less maintenance

time than in the past.

—Randy Burkhardt

Q: Is synthetic turf right for all park

applications where irrigated turf has

been used in the past?

A: No. I feel that synthetic turf used on

highly programmed sports fields is

exceptional, but we still use irrigated blue

grass turf in non-programmed areas, seating

areas adjacent to the synthetic fields,

and around picnic shelters and buildings.

—Randy Burkhardt

Q: Have you seen a revenue increase

because of the synthetic turf fields?

A: Yes. This can be attributed to two factors...

First, as mentioned earlier, we

charge 25 percent higher rental fees on

our synthetic turf fields. We feel that they

are premium fields and the rental fee

reflects that.

There have been no issues

with the teams regarding these higher

fees, and we now have a waiting list of

teams wanting to rent our synthetic turf


Secondly, we have increased the

time that we are able to play on our fields

from seven months per year to yearround.

The only time that our synthetic

turf fields are down is when there is snow

covering the field.

These two factors have

led to an almost 100 percent increase in

our projected revenue for our synthetic

turf fields in 2005.

—Randy Burkhardt

Q: What are some of the best tips you’ve

learned over the years for maintaining

sports fields?

A: 1. On fields (like football/soccer)

where you have enough space, try to

move the field over or turn it 180 degrees

to try to spread out the high-wear areas.

If it’s a combination game and practice

field ask the teams to move the practices

around as much as possible to spread the

wear out.

Most teams have a habit of

practicing in the same spot all day. Do it

as much as time and budgets allow.

2. A

recent study I read has begun to prove

what I have seen before. If you know an

area is going to get high use or wear, seed

into it before the event happens. If you

continue to seed it on a 7-10 day basis

you have a good chance to keep the area

green, assuming the weather cooperates.

3. We have cool season grass here in

Chicago, and the sod is mostly bluegrass.

A lot of people insist on reseeding with

bluegrass seed and that is a good thing,

but when the usage is high, seeding withperennial ryegrass will help heal the areas

quicker simply because it germinates and

grows faster.

You can get ryegrass seed to

germinate as fast as 2-5 days in good conditions

as opposed to bluegrass germinating

in 7-21 days.

Use both if you can.

They sell bluegrass-ryegrass blends, and

the rye will help protect the younger

bluegrass plants until they have a chance

to get going.

I have also found that you

should talk to your seed supplier and ask

about the germination characteristics of

the different varieties. Some grasses grow

differently in the spring as opposed to the

summer and fall.

We use straight ryegrass

over bluegrass sod and seed with bluegrass

as much as possible.

4. When you

have spots that are low or compacted and

won’t drain, and you can’t spend a lot of

time and money to fix, try what I have

heard called a French Drain.

It is basically

a hole dug in the center of the low spot

and filled with sand or a calcinated clay

type of product. Sometimes a piece of

plastic drain pipe is used vertically in the

center of the hole.

You can do this on

grass areas and skinned infield areas also.

Leave it an inch or so below the turf or

infield mix. If it is compacted try to aerate

it as much as possible.

5. The more

often you mow the thicker it will grow,

regardless of how high you are mowing.

We mow from one inch to 1 3/4 inches.

The Chicago Park District mows from 2

1/2 in to 4 inches.

6. As a friend of mine

and fellow groundskeeper likes to say,

“Grass grows by inches and is killed by


John Nolan is the head groundskeeper

for Soldier Field in Chicago.

Q: From whom do you garner resident

support for an invader species removal

program for forestry management?

A: The key to any forestry program is

education of park users and the community

before removal practices occur. An

invader species and removal program

allows for proper management of open

spaces and park lands in a community.

The only way a program of this type can

work is if residents support and assist

you. Articles in local newspapers, magazines,

and other localized publications

need to be the first step in getting the

information out to the public.

It is important

to outline the entire project, the reasoning

behind the project, and how it can

affect parks and open spaces.

The key is

to be straightforward with residents from

the beginning and share pros and possible

cons to the program. It is imperative

that solutions are given ahead of time so

that residents know what to expect.

Another tool in garnering support is visiting

service groups, clubs, and resident

groups to present project information on

a more personalized basis and to answer

specific concerns and questions directly

to those groups.

The third, and most

important step, is to inventory removal

areas and prioritize which areas are the

most affected.

According to this inventory,

neighborhoods that border or surround

the priority areas will need to be

informed about the program, where it

will occur, and what to expect upon completion.

Direct mailing of program information

is great for these localized areas.

The invader species removal program

should first start as a pilot program to

ensure that all the parameters are applicable

for the community and neighborhoods.

Once work begins on these priority

areas, be visible at the job site and

ensure that problems or perceived problems

are resolved in a short time frame.

Upon completion, get feedback from residents

by surveys, phone calls or direct

mailing. Be open to change and if a group

of residents has issues with a portion of

the program be willing to adjust.


the program is accepted and the pilot

program is adopted, keep communication

lines open and do not lose touch

with the people that are directly affected.

Attend local events (such as Earth Day,

Arbor Day, and so forth) and continue

the spread of accurate information.

Matt Taylor, Parks Superintendent,

Community Associations of The Woodlands

(Texas), Parks and Recreation.

Q: What is all this talk about Green

Buildings, LEED?

A: Created by the United States Green

Building Council, Leadership in Energy

and Environmental Design (LEED), a

Green Building is an integrated, lifecycle

approach, taking into consideration

design, construction, operations, maintenance

of the building and landscaping as

they relate to energy, the economy, and

environmental impacts and performance.

There are various levels of LEED certification:

Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Certified,

depending on the number of points

acquired in various categories.


include Innovation and Design Process,

Indoor Environmental Quality, Materials

and Resources, Energy and the Atmosphere,

Water Efficiency and Sustainable


Green buildings demonstrate responsibility

and a commitment to our future.

They incorporate the principals of reducing

exposure of construction workers and

occupants, historic preservation, flexible

interiors, air quality, use of natural

resources, water efficiency, access to public

transportation, non-toxic and recycled

building materials, and preserve natural


Michele R. McGleish, Director,

Department of Parks, Recreation and

Culture, Gaithersburg, Md.

Q: Have you or will you consider designing/

building such a facility?

A: “The City of Gaithersburg encourages

green building principals in both public

and private development in order to support

environmentally sensitive design,

construction, operation and maintenance

of buildings and landscapes”, is a statement

within the Gaithersburg Green

Building Guide for Developers, which

incentives builders and developers

through a building permit fee reduction.

And, yes, we want to be a role model

within the city and community at large.

Construction commenced and is in the

midst of the completion stages of a 7,000

square foot youth center.

This facility will

have a 25-foot rock climbing wall, computer

laboratory, homework area, arts

and crafts room, multipurpose spaces,

lounge area with television, pool tables

and games, concession stand with nutritious

offerings, and an educational program

throughout the building, demonstrating

that blue jeans were used as insulation,

recycled soda bottles were used for

carpeting, flushless urinals, the geothermal

heating and cooling unit that recycles

water using the Earth’s mass, natural

lighting through sky lights and windows,

and the like.

Three recreational fields and

a basketball hoop are located outside the

doors of the facility.

Michele R. McGleish

Q: What is the projected cost-benefit

analysis your department has run in

anticipation of this facility?

A: A 30 percent reduction in water use

over a typical building and a 20 percent

reduction in energy costs for its efficiency

in the geothermal system over a typical


Michele R. McGleish

Q: Was there anything you noticed in the

design and construction phases that

were different that other agencies

should be on the lookout for?

A: At the onset, ensure that the entire

project team is on board and aware of the

schedule of values (materials/costs).

During the design phase, make certain

that the setting of goals for credits is

understood and will be met, and that the

building must be well integrated in site

selection/the orientation of the building.

Local manufacturers must be used for all

building materials. And, make certain

that a contractor has LEED certified experience

in their portfolio of projects.

Michele R. McGleish

Bryan BuchkoComment