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Upper Arlington has long enjoyed a vibrant youth sports program, thanks to the volunteer efforts of several community members who serve as administrators and coaches. Over time, the high use of the City’s athletic fields for both programmed and informal sports, general park user activities and community events has resulted in turf conditions that hinder the safety and playability of playing surfaces.

During the 2018 Parks & Recreation Comprehensive Plan process, it was determined that the conditions of parks in general, and athletic fields specifically, were below acceptable standards, and as part of an extensive community input process, residents prioritized improvements to athletic fields.

Since then, the City has implemented improvements to its athletic fields in a number of ways that have included:

  • Creation of a Parks & Forestry (Turf) Specialist position
  • The prioritization of capital improvements for athletic fields
  • Enhanced protocols within the existing turf maintenance plan
  • Creation of a Field Use Policy designed to maximize field use in a sustainable manner

While these steps have resulted in some improvements, the Parks & Recreation Department determined that a more extensive maintenance program is necessary to make lasting change. To that end, Staff has conducted extensive research on potential maintenance approaches and tools for providing consistent quality fields. This process included industry and peer-community best practices, community engagement, and discussion with the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.

The use of an Integrated Turf Health Management Program has been identified as a viable, approach that is site specific and tailored to each location’s needs, using the least impactful materials necessary to accomplish maintenance goals, with a focus on the overall turfgrass system, including plants, soils and beneficial organisms, to reduce the risk of injury and exposure to treatment materials while improving playability.

This proposed program and a guiding policy was reviewed and approved by City Council in June of 2022.

As the department readies to begin implementation, this project page will transition to serve as the primary source for updates. Please check back soon for details.

ABOUT THE INTEGRATED TURF HEALTH MANAGEMENT PLAN

The backbone of the Integrated Turf Health Management Program is a field-specific approach, based on frequent assessments. A knowledgeable and trained member of Staff would spend approximately four-eight hours every three-four weeks going through an objective, comprehensive and systematic checklist for measurable items that affect a field’s safety and playability. This assessment would result in an overall rating score. The score would govern the maintenance level followed and which of the available tools – some combination of cultural practices (such as reseeding and aeration) and pest management – should be prescribed and used for the management of each field.

Staff would develop a prioritization process for implementation of the Integrated Turf Management Program,based on available staff time and financial resources. Thus, some fields that qualify for a more intensive level of treatment may receive less treatment due to overall priorities with athletic field maintenance. The Integrated Turf Health Management Program would be limited to athletic fields only, with a minimal buffer area. Any treatments undertaken as part of this management program would not be applied to surrounding park grounds.

PUBLIC MEETINGS

  • City Council Meeting – May 16: First Reading, Public Hearing
  • City Council Meeting – June 6: Second Reading, Public Hearing
  • City Council Meeting – June 13: Third Reading, Public Hearing, Council Action. The policy was approved

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