By Steve Plunkett
After a half-year of construction, Patch Reef Park has opened three artificial turf fields complete with state-of-the-art organic infill that promises not to give youngsters hot feet.
The GreenPlay infill, a mixture of coconut fiber and cork, “enhances overall player safety by providing lower field temperatures, less abrasiveness and increased foot stability,” turf manufacturer Sprinturf says.
The $4 million Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District project, which began in March, replaced what previously were three natural grass fields.
“These fields will not require the extensive downtime for maintenance, hold up terrific in our tropical climate and give our youth the experience of playing on a professional level surface,” District Commissioner Robert Rollins said. “We are excited that the project is coming to a close and look forward to the community enjoying the fields.”
In other Beach and Park District news, commissioners on Sept. 11 elevated interim Executive Director Briann Harms to be their permanent director.
“The district has a long history of providing first-class facilities and amenities to enhance the recreational experience of our community, and it is a pleasure to be selected to continue that commitment,” Harms said.
Patch Reef’s artificial turf has permanent lines for football, lacrosse and soccer, but can be used for most any sport that requires a field, district facilities manager Melissa Dawson said. And a new drainage system underneath eliminates the need to cancel games because of soggy fields, said Dawson, who oversaw construction of the project.
Patch Reef Park, on Yamato Road just west of Military Trail, is co-owned by the district and Palm Beach County. The district pays the city to operate and maintain it.
Earlier versions of artificial turf used rubber pellets for the infill, which retained heat from the sun. For years, district commissioners resisted putting in turf after conflicting reports on its cost and how hot it would get. The Boca Raton City Council, the district’s partner in many recreation efforts, had endorsed a goal of installing turf to save money and increase playing time.
“I don’t know how many of those folks [at City Council] have gone to Dade County and stepped on one of those fields at noon as I did and found there was just one player out there and he could hardly wait to get off because his feet were burning from the heat,” Rollins said in 2011.
But at a joint meeting in 2015 the council and the district reached a compromise allowing commissioners to install artificial turf at Patch Reef and put in four grass fields at city-owned DeHoernle Park on Spanish River Boulevard.
Harms, 40, served as the district’s assistant director from 2013 through 2018. Her predecessor, Arthur Koski, tapped her as his replacement.Ú