CORNELIUS — Town commissioners approved a contract and asked staff to initiate the bid process for an estimated $1.16 million re-turfing project for the multipurpose fields at Bailey Road Park.
Cornelius Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture Department Director Troy Fitzsimmons presented the plan, which includes partnering with the Carolina Rapids Soccer Club to help foot the bill, at the March 3 commissioners’ meeting.
The town agreed to pay $1.16 million with Carolina Rapids paying off nearly $850,000 of that cost through an initial $20,000 at the date of signing and then monthly increments until 2026. If the Cornelius nonprofit backs out for any reason, it would have to pay 33 percent of the remaining balance to the town.
If the timeline works out, bidding will open April 9 and construction will start by May 5 to have the fields completed by Aug. 15.
The fields require a lot of maintenance, including mowing, reseeding, fertilizing and irrigating. Plus, they are only plush and green for a short period during the year. Fitzsimmons explained the grass grows best in the fall. But the fields’ use is highest in fall and early spring. They are commonly used from the time schools get out in the afternoon until 9-10 p.m., plus most of the weekends. Participants complain about deteriorating fields.
The town closes the fields May to August for renovations. Closing the fields means having to turn down rentals and tournaments.
Synthetic turf offers the town the opportunity to remain open year-round, closing only for inclement weather, Fitzsimmons said. It will double the multipurpose field capacity without building new fields. It also reduces maintenance costs and offers the opportunity to host tournaments, which Carolina Rapids Director Thomas Finlay told the board has potential to bring in more than $2 million to the Lake Norman area.
Fitzsimmons describes the technology used in this turf as “not your daddy’s Astroturf.” “This stuff is like carpet,” he said.
Maintenance may still cost $4,500 a year, but will be less than current charges.
The warranty lasts for eight years, but Fitzsimmons said the fields should hold 12-15 years. To lessen damage to the field, the town may have to change procedures for events like Symphony in the Park.
During the meeting, PARC board Chair Del Arrendale told the board that the project, when initially presented, was a tough sell for him and described himself as a skeptic.
“I was concerned about the money aspect,” he said. “I delayed it a year to study it in great detail and we formed a committee. I was concerned about the money involved and usability. I’m convinced it’s a good thing to do.
“It’s good for the town, good for the residents and there are great aspects for safety for children and people who use it.”
Commissioner David Gilroy wanted to ensure there is a return on investment, but Arrendale said, while he is hesitant about making money on tournaments, the “benefits far outweigh anything you can imagine.”
Interested in a summer camp? Carolina Rapids will offer the following summer camps:
• Rapids Club Camp – Campers, ages 4-14, can register for June 23-26, July 7-10, July 14-17 and July 28-31.
• Rapids Summer Futsal League – The league runs Thursday evenings, June 19-Aug. 14, except July 3.
• Rapids Pre-Season Warm Up Camp – Competitive players prepare for the fall season July 29-Aug. 1.