The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 20, 2006


RecCom wants artificial turf for one Banta-Davis all-purpose field

The Carlisle Recreation Commission has listed many reasons why they recommend installing artificial turf on the proposed multi-purpose playing field on the Banta-Davis Land off Bedford Road. Play time, environmental issues, safety, maintenance time and expense are all affected by this decision.

A synthetic infill artificial field is made up of fiber which looks like grass, and an infill material which is tiny balls that sink to the bottom of the fiber and the backing or mat. The ground below the mat is specifically prepared for this type of field and its drainage needs (see diagram.)

It never rests

Perhaps the biggest effect of artifical turf is the fact that it can be used all the time and does not need to be rested periodically, as does natural grass. As participation in youth sports has grown, the demand for field use has increased. Artificial turf would allow scheduling of more practice sessions and games. Artificial turf drains much better than natural grass and fewer games would be canceled due to the weather. If the field were cleared, one could play after a snowfall.

Improved safety

The artificial infill field is not Astro Turf of the 1970s. The new material does not burn the skin upon impact. An artificial turf field is safer than a grass field because the field is level with a consistent surface.

Artificial turf has also been recommended by proponents as better for the environment than natural grass. Made from recycled materials including old tires, the artificial turf fields do not receive the fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides typically applied to traditional athletic fields. The Conservation Commmission has voted to permit the use of artificial turf at Banta-Davis, but has chosen not to formally recommend it at this time.


A direct comparison of costs of grass field vs. artificial turf are difficult. Yearly maintenance costs are lower with artificial turf, but at least part of the $578,600 product is expected to need replacement after about a dozen years. At the end of its usefulness, the turf is pulled up and replaced. The area below ground will not need to be redone. Dewberry, a manufacturer of artificial turf estimates it will cost $750 to brush the field every other week during an estimated eight-month season and $500 every four years to repaint the lines.

The RecCom contracts out for field maintenance. During FY06, the fiscal year that ended June 30, the town spent $48,781 on maintenance of athletic fields at Banta-Davis and Spalding. Because of overlapping playing field layouts at Spalding, the RecCom can fit 6.5 playing fields at the two sites.

A popular choice

Carlisle would not be alone should it decide to put in artificial turf. As of 2005, there were already 69 such installations in New England. Many neighboring schools and towns already have artificial turf, including: Lincoln Sudbury High School, Lexington Municipal Park, Acton-Boxboro High School, Waltham High School, Waltham Municipal Athletic Complex, Waltham Recreational, Roosevelt Middle School in Bedford and many colleges.

If Warrant Articles One and Two pass, it is expected that construction for the multi-purpose field with artificial turf would begin in December and would be ready this coming spring. If the town instead chooses regular grass, the field would not be expected to be usable until the spring of 2008. The cost of Warrant Article Two, which changes one grass field to a turf field, is $578,600.

Ed. Note: For different views see Letters on page 16, "Vote for earth not artificial turf."

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito