By Shawne FitzGerald. First posted on the Minneapolis Issues Forum.

This vote is an add-on to the proposed DeLaSalle Athletic Facility. The Park Board is supporting a change from natural turf to artificial turf. The Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) has denied this change on the grounds that artificial turf is not part of a historic landscape. The HPC denial is on appeal to the Minneapolis City Council. The issue was heard in Zoning and Planning Committe and was moved forward with no recommendation. The full City Council will consider the issue on Friday.

As I understand the proposed construction: on the bottom is a sort of synthetic liner with fibers and this is covered with inches of sand. On top of this, there would be about 200 tons of crumbs made from recycled tires. A similar field at Parade opened last July. (Have list members or their children used the new Parade field?)

Besides historic preservation, there are environmental concerns pointed out in the City staff report. Studies have found that these fields have a heat island effect. There are concerns about chemicals leaching from the tire crumbs;
longterm effects are not known. The pro argument is
that the synthetic field would allow for greater use. Because it was not originally proposed, synthetic turf was not reviewed in the Environmental Assessment, Citizens Advisory Committee process, or City site plan and conditional use review. The Park Board held no Committee
or public hearings on synthetic turf on Nicollet Island or Parade. The Park Board turned down Lowry Hill neighbors petition for environmental review of the Parade project. So, via an odd and somewhat limited process, the environmental impact of this type of synthetic turf installation will be before the City Council.