Aspen tread on Vail’s turf |

Aspen tread on Vail’s turf

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad Aspen Town Councilman Torre plays a little soccer to get a feel for the turf at Vail Mountain School Tuesday.

Aspenites went barefoot in the park in Vail.

It felt pretty good.

“I wish my carpet felt like that,” said Jennifer Albright Carney, director of special events for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, on a recent visit tooVail.

“Feels pretty nice,” conceded Mayor Helen Klanderud, one of a handful of city officials and citizens who pulled off their shoes and socks to tread on artificial turf at the Vail Mountain School soccer field.

Councilman Torre kicked around a soccer ball, while Councilman Terry Paulson strolled thoughtfully across the cushy, verdant field of plastic grass infused with a base of tiny rubber pellets.

Ron Morehead, manager at Aspen Sports and director of youth football in Aspen, took a running slide across the surface. So did Keith Bulicz, recreation programmer for the city parks and recreation department. Both were sporting shiny, pink “burns” on their calves as a result.

“It’s no worse than regular grass,” Morehead concluded.

“I’d call it equal with normal turf,” Bulicz agreed.

With Aspen pondering an artificial surface at one of its parks, the city arranged yesterday’s road trip to get a feel for the fake turf, visiting fields in Vail and Edwards.

“I think this product makes a lot of sense somewhere in our community,” said Jeff Woods, Aspen parks director.

Aspen could use a half dozen more athletic fields to meet the demand, he said. At the same time, there has been increasing pressure to use the city’s downtown parks for special events.

One of Aspen’s most popular parks emerged this spring as a possible candidate for artificial turf, raising eyebrows and cries of protest from those appalled by the prospect of a plastic park.

“I’m more impressed than I thought I’d be. This is a really nice field,” Torre said. “But then, again, this application is a playing field. This isn’t a park.”

Leon Fell, who organizes Aspen’s annual Motherlode Volleyball Classic, wondered how the surface would work for diving volleyball players. Devin Padgett, producer of the Aspen Food & Wine Magazine Classic, was more interested in plunging tent stakes in the grass. Other worries ranged from accommodating dogs to how hot the turf gets in the summer.

According to Woods, the turf can be cooled with sprinkling, and doggie deposits have to be picked up as usual. Offending spots can also be sprayed with disinfectant and the turf can be washed, he said. The turf has a drainage system with sand at its base.

The Edwards park, however, was posted “no dogs” and pooches aren’t welcomed on the Vail field either, though one was wandering about yesterday.

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