The following is an actual reaction of community opinion and ideas for and against replacing a local playing field’s natural grass with synthetic grass. These  are the thoughts, concerns and ideas put forward before a decision was made in a Seattle playing field improvement project. Local residents, parents children and professionals all added their thoughts and strong opinions for and against the idea of synthetic grass.

Reasons for supporting grass or synthetic

In favor of grass

• Several people said they preferred grass for its ecological benefits, particularly as it produced oxygen and supported biotic life. Some wondered if synthetic turf was consistent with Seattle’s “green” policies including green roofs, tree planting.
• People worried that synthetic turf would preclude other uses and that the neighboring community would feel uncomfortable on it.
• People thought there were enough playfields around and that winter athletic fields were unnecessary.
• Some thought that the park was a “playfield” not a “sports” fields and not necessarily for athletics
• Some wanted their children to only play on grass.

In favor of synthetic

• Several community members said they or their children were sports field users and were looking forward to an improved field for play.
• One young baseball player said that this particular area has always had a sports field and that the big grass lawn and playground were the place for picnics and grass.
• Synthetic is multi-purpose, can be used for other activities as well
• The local Little League and other local sports team representatives said many of their players were playing and could not attend the public meeting. They said there were not enough Ballard fields to play on and that the “endangered species are the kids”
• Soccer and Frisbee players thought synthetic fields were “knee friendly” and looked forward to playing on it with their children.
• People who had played on synthetic said they liked being on it barefoot.
• Football and baseball coaches said they worried about holes in natural turf and looked forward to a field that was safe and usable in all weather and all seasons.
• A resident who is an engineer said that King County put three synthetic fields within 100 yards of salmon stream because the fields improved water quality with no watering, mowing, or fertilizers
• A baseball player said if grass were replanted at the playfields it would be 2 years until she could play on the field.
• One person said she was an enthusiast for more resources available in Ballard and this would provide more resources. She noted that demographic changes are driving a sports focus, not that sports are not driving changes.
• A local Little League coach said she struggles each year to find fields – this is the only 90 foot diamond available; and no practice times are available. She said the Challenger’s League could play on synthetic turf and this would allow first ever ADA accessible baseball program in the area.

It’s pertinent to note the strong sentiments towards replacing natural grass with synthetic grass. There appears to be an understanding for the most part that making the transition is not an environmental step backwards.