The plans to upgrade Middle and Wildcat fields are moving forward. The Mt. Lebanon commission voted 4-1, with Commissioner Kelly Fraasch dissenting, to approve the $1 million project, which calls for replacing the grass on the fields with an artificial playing surface.
The proposed project enjoyed widespread support from the youth sports community which is in great need of more field space and constantly needs to cancel games on grass fields because of bad weather. Many options for building new fields or turfing other existing fields were explored, but ultimately the plan to upgrade Wildcat and Middle proved to be the most viable.
Some residents expressed strong opposition to the project throughout the decision-making process, mainly sharing their concern either for the cost of the project or about potentially harmful effects of artificial grass with rubber infill. In addition to fielding questions from the public at meetings, the Commission discussed potential health concerns with experts both at Commission discussion sessions and at a forum held in June in Mellon Auditorium that was attended by about 50 people. They decided to move forward with the project, provided $250,000 in private contributions could be raised.
The municipality committed $750,000 to the project, and the rest was raised from from individuals, companies and sports organizations.
The commissioners awarded the installation contract to Vasco Sports Contractors, an Ohio company. Installation of the field, a storm filtration system and drinking fountains comes to $888,000. Construction is expected to conclude in late October.
The municipality has made an arrangement with Mt. Lebanon School District in which, in exchange for field use, the school district will provide labor and equipment for field grooming and maintenance.