Spring Maintenance of Athletic Fields

WHEN WILL FIELDS REOPEN FOR THE SPRING?

3/25/21 - The Parks and Recreation Department is excited, as you are, to open the athletic fields this spring. We are all eager to get back outdoors and start competing after a long winter and pandemic. With the weather beginning to change, our Department has been receiving multiple inquiries into when fields will be ready for play this season. We are reaching out to all of the user groups to explain the current condition of the athletic fields this time of year and outline what we are doing to prepare for the spring season. We are seeking your help to get you on the fields a quickly as possible without sacrificing the condition of the field and the safety of our athletes. Playing on a field too early, before the grass or clay is fully dry, could result in the need for additional maintenance delaying access for a portion of the season.

As the temperature increases and fields become clear of snow, the subsurface will begin to thaw from a deep freeze. As the ground warms, the surface will be over-saturated from freezing and thawing from the winter snow. Rain events are common in April and unfortunately, this makes it difficult for the grass to completely dry out, creating an unsafe playing surface. The subsurface temperatures are slowly rising, allowing for grass to once again come to life and begin to grow. For a proper athletic field to be ready to use, the subsurface temperatures must be at 55 degrees for a few weeks to allow growth and rootzones to gain strength and provide a resilient surface suited for athletic activity.

Once the fields and clay are dry, our Parks Maintenance crews perform seasonal maintenance to help with the growth and sustainability of fields, ensuring a safe playing surface for our 70,000 plus residents. Until these steps occur, fields are not ready and will not be released for permitting. Historically, we are in a position to permit fields for use from the second to the third week in April. This is all weather and subsurface driven and out of our control for the most part. Additionally, each field is different by location and subsurface. Some fields dry faster than others due to subsurface drainage and soil compaction; while other fields take longer to dry and reestablish following the winter freeze. Throughout all this, our infields and sand/clay surface also require time to properly drain and dry in preparation for the season. This too is subject to weather and subsurface temperatures. The Park maintenance crew may lightly rake the clay infields to assist mother nature in the drying process. The use of the infields when wet is not only unsafe but it will create holes in the clay that will very difficult to rake out when the clay is dry enough to maintain. Please resist the temptation to try to push water off an infield. It will only push the clay and sand into the grass, making the edges unsafe, and creating a hole for more water to gather the next time it rains.

Thank you for your patience and understanding!