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Decatur City Commission approves contracts for converting Ebster Field to synthetic turf

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Decatur City Commission approves contracts for converting Ebster Field to synthetic turf

FILE PHOTO: Children head for the eggs during STAR Afterschool Program’s annual “Say No To Drugs” egg hunt at Ebster Park in the city of Decatur on Friday, April 15, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission, at its Nov. 6 regular meeting, approved contracts for the design and construction of improvements to Ebster Field. The field is slated to be converted to synthetic turf.

The commission approved a design and pre-construction budget of $140,000 for Ebster Field Improvements, an agreement for design-build services in the amount of $50,580 to Precision Turf LLC, and an agreement for program management services in the amount of $73,540 to AJB Construction Group. Precision Turf’s design partner is Breedlove Land Planning, who is designing the track and field at Legacy Park.

“This project involves converting Ebster Field, which is a natural turf field on top of the Ebster stormwater vault, from natural turf to artificial turf and adding a ball field lighting,” Capital Projects Manager Hugh Saxon said. “The field is intensively used year-round. Like most natural turf fields that are used year-round in all weather conditions, it suffers a lot of wear and tear.”

Ebster Field is located on Electric Avenue, next to the City Schools of Decatur central office and the Ebster Recreation Center.  The field at Ebster Park is currently a grass, multiuse athletic field that supports a variety of activities, including soccer, football, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, and summer camps. It currently does not have lighting. The field is difficult to maintain, he added.

“Natural turf fields are best maintained when they are not used,” Saxon said. “Unfortunately with the lack of land area in Decatur, we have limited opportunities for athletic fields, so converting it to synthetic turf will extend its use, provide a better quality surface, and lighting will extend use during the fall, winter, and spring months for more hours.”

In response to a question from one of the commissioners, Saxon added that the field is especially impacted by wet weather, and it cannot be maintained at a high level.

“They go dormant right about now, in the fall, and they continue to be used through the fall and starting right after the first of the year. They get torn up constantly and don’t have an opportunity to regenerate,” Saxon said.

Land is the key issue, he added. If the city had enough natural fields, the usage could be rotated, “but unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of land,” Saxon said.

The field will be re-graded and a new drainage system will be installed underneath the surface. The city will also be looking at whether to have a pad underneath the turf and will be considering what type of fill the turf will have like crumb rubber or a natural material.

Athletic field lighting will be added as well. The city is considering purchasing the lighting either through a state contract or a cooperative purchasing agreement. Saxon said the lighting will be cut off lighting, so it will shine directly onto the field, but not spread into surrounding areas.

“Outside of the perimeter of the field, you will not be illuminated,” Saxon said.

A project budget of $1.75 million was approved in the current fiscal year’s budget. If the design and pre-construction activities are successfully completed, the city commission will be asked to approve the final construction budget and an amendment to the design-build agreement for construction at a later time. The project will likely be completed in spring 2024.

The design-build agreement will also include the construction costs, which is largely based on the type of synthetic turf that will be selected and installed.

“What we’re, at least right now, thinking about is trying to have a field that is similar to what we will be specifying at Legacy Park, so it would have comparable fields, and we’d be able to maintain them in a comparable way using similar equipment and provide a good, safe surface for our residents to play on,” Saxon said.

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