The new Spanish River Sports Complex will open any day now, and plans could fast-track two more ball fields with artificial turf for the first time. The turf had a positive response from City Hall.
“The clock is ticking on the request for additional fields, and some can be done right away and some can be phased in. If we put in the first two fields with artificial turf…does that help you speed up the process?” Earl Starkoff, chairman of the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District, which built the park, proposed at the May 21 meeting.
“Absolutely, that would help,” said Arthur Koski, the district’s point person, who’s waiting on the city’s approval for four more fields on land the city owns.
The original eight playing fields were primarily intended for soccer, softball and baseball. A 12-field mega complex would bring in rugby and lacrosse and could earmark the facility for regional and wider tournaments.
Mickey Gomez, who heads the city’s Recreation Services, said later that he welcomes the idea. “The community has huge benefits to put in artificial turf at De Hoernle, because the fields will be in operation all year-round,” he said. The site is also called De Hoernle Park.
The department had asked for artificial turf on all the fields, but the district had them planted with grass, which is less expensive. Artificial turf means there’s no downtime to re-sod, which can run into months. Once the park opens, Gomez said everyone who applies will have equal access to the fields.
In another park development, the top bidder out of three proposals for routine maintenance was chosen, according to Assistant City Manager Mike Woika. The company is Sports Turf One, based in Boynton Beach, which designs, constructs and maintains sports fields. Their estimate is for $700,698.55 and another $250,000 for contingencies, according to a city document.
Now the district has to decide if Sports Turf One or the city will mow, clean the buildings and bleachers, and remove litter and debris from the athletic fields and common areas.
Executive director Bob Langford and Koski “will go through to compare what the city has in the budget. I don’t think there will be substantial savings,” Koski said. “They [the city] truly have a desire to privatize maintenance of this facility and not increase their personnel.”
Langford added that Sports Turf One expects five full-time people workers will be needed on the fields every day.
The last update on the park was a punch list with 26 minor items. Koski said the traffic signal is being installed and they’re waiting for a temporary certificate of occupancy.
“The city bought the land with a bond issue for the Spanish River park. That’s the cooperative effort,” Koski added. “Yes, we are funding construction… But residents will have the use of this land for $30 million before the bond runs out.”
Commissioners also tossed around the biggest ticket item on the city’s wish list to turn over the fields, $2 million more for beach renourishment already done, and ways to partner with the district going forward.