The Indian Trails Improvement District is in a battle with weeds and unauthorized use of its sports fields, Parks and Recreation Director Kenny Lawrence told the ITID Board of Supervisors on Wednesday March 23.
Lawrence was giving a presentation on sports field maintenance and plans for the future.
“The purpose of this presentation is to make you aware of the challenges that the Parks and Recreation department faces on a daily basis and to discuss some possible solutions,” Lawrence said. “Over the years, the department has faced many challenges with weeds.”
Many areas were previously treated with spot sprays, fertilization and aeration, and cutting fields twice a week, he said.
“As of today, we have completed 100% weed eradication,” Lawrence said. “There is a lack of grass due to the eradication of weeds in some areas.”
The department also addressed approximately 60 irrigation issues at Acreage Community Park and completed aeration at the north and south ends, overseeded and fertilized both areas, and ant treatment. However, the south end of the park still faces a problem with lawn maintenance and the spread of weeds.
Lawrence explained that some are spread by lawn mowers.
“Some are from natural causes, and that’s one of the big things that’s started all over again in the park, is the spread of weeds basically from outside areas into the fields themselves,” he said. he declares. “Other factors could be wind, wildlife and people.”
He showed pictures of sports fields in the park on the board, showing how the weeds surrounding the sports fields spread into the fields themselves.
“What happens when the guys cut and they pick up the weeds, it spreads from the cuttings,” he said, suggesting a 6-foot mulch border separating the fields.
He said another problem is unauthorized groups using the fields, such as a recent incident with a horse rider on the fields practicing barrel racing.
Another problem he discovered was that planting ryegrass during the winter actually contributes to weed growth because it punches holes in dormant Bermuda grass, allowing weeds to enter.
Lawrence noted that Palm Beach County has planned the installation of artificial turf on many of its fields, which would reduce maintenance costs and allow the fields to be usable year-round.
Options for ITID include continuing to overseed, installing turf, or installing artificial turf.
“Each option has its pros and cons,” Lawrence said. “Overseeding is the most cost-effective way to repair damaged fields, but it takes the longest to come back to life. You are looking at three to six months on average.
The option to install sod is a more expensive but faster method, he said.
“Most cities will replace their sports turf every year,” he said. “We could maybe get three years out of it. What is becoming the most popular choice is artificial grass. Artificial grass actually has a lifespan of 20 years. It has a high cost upfront, but you get the longest life out of it and have the least maintenance.
Based on about 150,000 square feet for the three football fields at Acreage Community Park, it would cost about $32,500 to overseed. New turf would cost around $187,000 and artificial turf would cost around $1.5 million,” Lawrence said, explaining that artificial turf could be financed and over 20 years it would cost less.
Meanwhile, Lawrence has appointed four members of his staff to monitor fields for unauthorized use and compel unauthorized groups to withdraw permits or move them to outdoor parks.
Other issues in the park include the deterioration and maintenance of buildings and the marl that has accumulated and needs to be re-spread so as not to clog the sewers.
After some discussion, the board scheduled a meeting for further review, tentatively scheduled for April 13 at the Acreage Branch Library with the Acreage Athletic League invited to attend.