The fast-tracked plan to install artificial turf fields at Forsyth County parks over the summer has stalled due to wet weather.
The contractor has started the installation at Coal Mountain and Sawnee Mountain parks, but the fields for Joint Venture at Daves Creek and Fowler Park are unlikely to be completed by the August deadline, in time for the youth football season.
Upgrading existing fields to artificial turf requires less maintenance and allows for more use, since the fields don’t get worn down, according to county parks staff.
Facing a shortage of rectangle fields for football, soccer and lacrosse, especially in the fall, the county commission voted in March to bid out the project in the hopes the work could be completed for the upcoming busy season.
County officials are “confident” that the first two fields will be completed by Aug. 5, said Donna Kukarola, procurement director.
It was going to be difficult to get all four finished this summer, Kukarola said, but the amount of rain this season has made that nearly impossible.
“We’re working with the contractor now to see how much longer it will take to get Daves Creek included this summer,” Kukarola said. “The big thing is we don’t want to feel that we can’t play on it if we already have games scheduled.”
The parks board discussed this week what the county should do with the Joint Venture Park field in the likely case it can’t be completed before youth football season.
Dan Slott said Joint Venture is a “dangerous field” right now, with holes, exposed sprinkler heads and dirt.
“That’s why I pushed very hard to say that Joint Venture should be on that list,” he said. “How many broken ankles do you need?”
Jim Brennan, youth football referee director, agreed that the field is in “pitiful shape.”
“It’s my strong recommendation that we don’t even schedule games down there,” Brennan said.
The board discussed working with the contractor to see if the deadline could be pushed back a few weeks to allow for the field to be used for at least part of the season.
The field could be used if it was sodded, Slott said, but he didn’t see a reason to “spend maintenance dollars to Band-Aid something.”
Slott was frustrated with both the contractor and the priority for field completion.
The parks board set its list of top four fields at a meeting in March, and sent its recommendation to the commission to bid out the project.
The next day, the county commission voted to approve going out to bid on the turf fields, but swapped the priority of Joint Venture to third and Sawnee Mountain Park to second.
When the contractor started work on June 10, Kukarola said, the company followed the priority set by commissioners.
The board’s only discussion on the Joint Venture field was that the park, as its name would suggest, is shared with Daves Creek Elementary.
The county parks department owns the field and controls the schedule, which allows students to use the field during school hours.
The vote to put out a bid with the order set by the commission was 3-1, with District 5 Commissioner Jim Boff opposed and District 2 Commissioner Brian Tam absent.
Slott was appointed by Tam, whose district includes Joint Venture Park at Daves Creek, which is along the boundary with District 5.
In early May, the commission voted 5-0 to award the bid to Sports Turf Company Inc. for nearly $1.3 million, an amount that covered four fields with available funding from 1-cent sales tax revenue.
The fields will be the first turfed at Coal Mountain and Joint Venture parks and the second for Sawnee Mountain and Fowler parks.