Roosevelt Park improvements have taken one more step towards becoming a reality.
The City Council voted to approve a bond authorization at its June 11 meeting to fund an overhaul of Roosevelt Park. The money will be borrowed against Community Protection Act funds, totaling $1.45 million over 10 years.
The plan for the park calls for a new, multi-use artificial field, as well as the addition of an outdoor classroom and much needed drainage improvements. As CPA funds cannot be used on artificial fields, the money approved in the bond can only be used for the other work in the project, with the field itself being paid for by outside donors and, if needed, city funds. The matter became a polarizing one in the city, with many in the Salemwood community preferring a natural field to an artificial one. The topic garnered one of the lengthiest public comment periods in a city council meeting since it was instituted last year, with 10 people speaking against the matter and just three speaking in favor. The item that most opposed was the use of a crumb-rubber infill for the field. Since gaining popularity in the early-to-mid-2000s, fields using this type of infill are well known for their durability, but have had anecdotal and, as yet, unsubstantiated connections to causing cancer. Where the field will primarily be used by the Salemwood School, many parents and teachers were concerned about this aspect of crumb-rubber. “It’s a short-sighted solution,” said resident and U5 soccer coach Clint McClosky.
Though the topic of crumb-rubber was discussed in committee, the council seemed intent on finding another type of infill that would assuage resident concerns. While crumb-rubber is likely the cheapest and most durable solutions, other infills types do exist, including, as pointed out by Councilor Debbe DeMaria, cork and coconut husk, as well as a wood-based one suggested by Councilor Barabara Murphy. “We’re not here to push something though. We’re here to make a safe field for everyone to use,” Murphy said. “On our watch, nothing else will happen.
The council voted 10-1 to approve the bond authorization, with Councilor Ryan O’Malley opposed. With that now in place, the project can move forward into the design phase.