El Dorado Park Turf Field Community Questions & AnswersRelease Date: 2020-11-13
WEST AREA SOCCER FIELD #1 - ALL WEATHER TURF FIELD
1. Was a cost comparison done on grass vs. synthetic soccer fields to include maintenance costs over the next 10-15 years?
Yes, costs for a natural grass fields average $500K for a complete field restoration and rehabilitation project, based on the size and scope of the project. However it is estimated that if natural grass field improvements were implemented, it would only be 4-5 years of play before the field turns back to its current state given heavy seasonal use by our sports leagues, current drought conditions, and our aging water delivery systems in the area. This would not include the extra water, maintenance costs, and down-time needed to maintain the field to the standard of what can be maintained through all-weather synthetic turf.
For comparison, here is a cost estimate side-by-side done for a standard soccer club field:
Estimated Cost of Installation*
5 Year Maint. Costs
Years of Use
All Weather Synthetic
* On average, dependent on the size and scope of the project.
† Based on standard annual maintenance contract expenses of other city operated fields.
‡ To maintain at the same level of surface and playability as the All Weather Synthetic based on other regional grass fields.
§ At minimum for field renovation purposes for two seasons of play per year; grass fields are also susceptible to reduced scheduled play for safety issues related to inclement weather.
The current water delivery systems and sprinklers in El Dorado Park regional were installed over 50 years ago and need to be modernized/replaced in order to meet the high impact usage of sports fields. Similar to the Heartwell Park Field Turf Project, that would be a multiyear project projected at multiple millions of dollars, outside of any needed field rehabilitation costs. It would also include dedicated funding for additional watering to maintain that field. Water prices are on the rise and our drought seasons are getting longer, which is why many public parks and schools are turning to synthetic turf.
2. What is the current field usage and how has enrollment been affected by the current health crisis?
The field is currently utilized 43 hours per week with 12-16 weeks of seasonal downtime for field recovery and maintenance. According to Parks, Recreation and Marine, enrollment has increased over 35% since 2013 with annual enrollment at 1,300-1,600 youth signups per year prior to the pandemic. Even with current health order restrictions, AYSO enrollment is currently at 1,100 youth sign-ups. This is expected to increase annually as parents and youth adjust to the new normal and health order adjustments/allowances are made.
3. The cost of this synthetic field was first estimated to be a little over a $1.4 million, then the cost rose to $1.8 million. What was the reason for the increase in cost?
Costs in general are dependent on the size and scope of any given project. Initial costs increased when cork and sand infill was standardized for all synthetic turf fields across the city by our Parks and Recreation Commission for environmental purposes. Some of the added costs of this project are attributed to the modifications we have made to resolve neighbor concerns. A higher grade of grass that doesn’t get hot, replacing crumb rubber with a natural alternative, designing a non-fence rock scape that prevents vehicle damage, and adding a maintenance agreement all have been included in the scope of the project.
Also, because this was a multi-year initiative, there are also economic factors in preliminary cost estimations that are reevaluated annually as funding is acquired to meet the needs of the project. When an economy is doing well, construction costs rise to meet demand. Prior to the pandemic, overall construction costs were elevated. Because the city facilitates a public competitive bid process through Planet Bids, there is opportunity for cost savings which can only be determined after the closing of an RFP (request for proposal). Once the RFP is closed, Public Works will evaluate all proposals to determine the reputation of company, quality and scope of service proposed, and overall cost value of work performed to select the winning bid. This is then brought back to council for further public feedback and approval prior to any scheduling of work conducted.
4. Did the City conduct benchmarking with organizations to find out costs and what worked well (or not)? Was CSULB consulted?
Yes, the above cost estimates between synthetic and natural grass fields are comparable to what is installed and maintained for CSULB. The college has a mix of natural and synthetic turf sports facilities on campus and they make their own determinations based on sports field use, level of play, water delivery systems, and maintenance contracts, all of which have different factors compared to fields utilized in public park spaces that see heavier use of play.
5. Will children be able to play on the synthetic field during Concerts in the Park?
Yes! It was determined in prior public meetings that the public wanted to see continued access to that area for this exact reason.
6. Synthetic grass heats up and can be felt through shoes. What cooling systems are in place to account for that?
Modern all-weather fields have water systems installed to cool the surface during excessive heat periods. These are used as needed and operators of other synthetic fields in the region have stated that they seldom resort to needing them. Based on current water rates, Parks, Recreation, and Marine estimates an annual savings of $4,500 in the switch to all-weather turf for this project alone.
7. I’m told there are more injuries on synthetic turf. How do those problems weigh into the decision about whether to use synthetic grass?
This is based on old, worn out synthetic fields that were not adequately maintained or refurbished after their useful life. Many sports users would argue that our current natural grass soccer fields are in the same state of disrepair and present ongoing hazardous conditions with uneven playing surfaces, weeds, worn or dirt patch areas, and gopher holes.
8. What are the terms of the RFP that was put out to bid for installation and maintenance of the field and who won? How will the contractor be held accountable for work performed?
The RFP is hosted through the public portal Planet Bids. For convenience, please see the linked RFP in PDF format, showing the scope of project and current bid results. A final determination is pending review and presentation to City Council, which will be announced as soon as a date is determined.
Contractors are held accountable through legally binding contracts and service agreements held with the City. These contracts are overseen by department contract managers (in this case, Public Works) and are enforced through the City Attorney. All city contracts must go through a public City Council approval process and can be found under https://longbeach.legistar.com/Legislation.
9. What is the timeline for the soccer field?
The RFPs are currently being reviewed. Once a winning bid is determined, it will need to come back to Council for further public feedback and approval before a timeline can be set.
10. Why not use more school-based fields?
Local school fields are currently unavailable to leagues. These fields are operated by Long Beach Unified School District, a state agency with its own elected/governing leaders who sit on the Board of Education. The city has no jurisdictional oversight to those spaces, and has had minimal to no response to our advocacy efforts.
11. What public forums have been held regarding synthetic fields?
Twelve in total with six conducted in the district and one recent virtual forum:
- Jul 26, 2013 – 2014 Proposed Budget presented to City Council included $100,000 in one-time upgrades to existing athletic fields currently rented by youth and adult leagues to help reduce ongoing renovation costs. (page 10)
- Sep 3, 2013 – Budget Oversight Committee Meeting (Patrick O’Donnell, Chair) added an additional $1,820,000 to the FY14 One-Time Budget Recommendations.
- Sep 3, 2013 – City Council Meeting, Agenda Item 1.11, during budget adoption where another $400,000 was added for a total of $2,320,000 of field improvements and turf conversion projects at Admiral Kidd, Seaside, and El Dorado Parks.
- Jan 29, 2014 – Soccer Fields Joint Community Meeting (O’Donnell & Schipske). See article.
- Jan 26, 2015 – Artificial Turf Field Community Meetings held at El Dorado Park West. See article.
- Feb 23, 2015 – Artificial Turf Field Community Meetings held at El Dorado Park West. See article.
- Jun 15, 2015 – Parks and Recreation Commission, Agenda Item 1, to decide on type of synthetic turf where vote was approved to accept cork or coconut fiber natural alternatives as the Citywide standard over crumb rubber. Agenda Item 2, to decide on installations of a fence and lighting at El Dorado Park Soccer Field #1 where a vote was approved to accept a 4 foot fence and lighting with a priority given to youth soccer programs (18 and under) with activities promptly ending at 9:00 PM. See article.
- Nov 17, 2015 – City Council Meeting, Agenda Item 36, requested an update on the current cost estimate for previously approved soccer field turf conversion projects slated for Admiral Kidd Park, El Dorado Park West, and Seaside Park; also requested a report on other appropriate park uses in lieu of artificial turf for El Dorado Park.
- Sep 28, 2015 – Compact Sports Space Community Meeting held at El Dorado Park West. See article.
- Feb 7, 2017 – Council Meeting, Agenda Item 19, authorized and awarded contracts for the completion of Seaside Park and Admiral Kidd Park; approved $800K in expenditures to design and construct athletic field improvements at EI Dorado Park West.
- Nov 21, 2019 – Parks and Recreation Commission Meeting, Agenda Item 4, authorized and approved an artificial turf sports field and site improvements for public recreation at El Dorado Park West.
- Oct 28, 2020 – Most recent virtual Community Meeting on all improvements slated for El Dorado Park. See announcement.
PARKS MAINTENANCE & BUDGET QUESTIONS
12. How much money is the city spending through its own departments for the upkeep of the park? What is money being spent on?
For an interactive data tool showing the 2020 budget and history with breakdowns by department and use, visit BudgetLB. For more information on the Citywide 2021 adopted budget, see the latest City of Long Beach Budget Breakdown video and visit www.longbeach.gov/budget.
Parks budgets are reviewed annually through the Citywide budget adoption process that includes several community-based meetings and department specific hearings that lead up to council review and budget adoption. For a video of the latest budget hearing by Parks, Recreation, and Marine conducted prior to 2021 budget adoption, click here.
13. Shouldn’t we be doing basic maintenance before adding new features that will require additional maintenance funds?
All of the pending improvement projects are rehabilitating current park features and facilities that have existed for decades in El Dorado Park, are heavily utilized by park visitors, and are in need of improvements/repair.
Some of these projects are able to be accelerated based on federal and private grant dollars that are awarded to supplement projects that would’ve otherwise needed General Fund dollars to move forward. Grant funds are only allocated based on very specific criteria and eligibility standards (i.e., considerations for ADA accessibility, safety, mobility, health, environment, etc.).
14. Where does the money go from the El Dorado Park East Gate entry fees collected?
Gate entry fees collected from visitor and annual pass holders go back into the General Fund bucket and are earmarked specifically for Parks, Recreation, and Marine parks improvements and maintenance. It was decided many years ago to not make that funding go directly back into El Dorado Park East and would take the vote of at least 5 councilmembers to change it otherwise.
15. Why isn’t Measure A funding being utilized for basic park maintenance?
Measure A is a ballot initiative approved by voters that specifically designates funds for Citywide public infrastructure and safety initiatives. Watering and general maintenance for parks would not qualify for Measure A funding usage. Visit www.longbeach.gov/measurea for more information.
Basic maintenance for parks comes out of General Fund dollars.
16. Has the city considered combining soccer fields with baseball diamonds to save money in El Dorado Park?
There are several multi-use fields in Heartwell Park and one located in El Dorado Park. It can be a consideration for future improvements; however, current sports user groups are generally against this because it creates further conflict in seasonal field use and scheduling. It is an annual point of contention among baseball and soccer users of those spaces.
In addition to this, the multi-use fields in Heartwell Park are natural grass and get worn out very quickly, with extended periods needed for reseeding to get the fields in playable condition, much of which isn't able to fully recover before the next sport season starts. Because of this factor, many regional mixed-use sport facilities have opted for synthetic turf.
17. Why can’t funds from one project be allocated towards other projects with more urgent needs?
There are many needs across the city that all hold importance to someone. What some people consider to be urgent, others do not. It is the challenge of the office, but we pride ourselves on taking feedback from everyone to make the most informed decisions.
18. Is there a plan to increase pedestrian access to the park? Where can I go to submit suggestions, like this, for future imrovements?
A great idea for future improvements! We highly recommend completing the community survey for updating of our Parks Strategic Plan. The plan helps to guide future budget decisions for parks improvements. The Planning and Partnerships Bureau under the Parks, Recreation, and Marine had to take a break from working on this due to the impacts of COVID-19 but have recently resumed work. They continue to seek public input and feedback on what residents care about most.