Retrofitting For Sustainability

For more than 30 years, Grass Lawn Park has been the most utilized “year-round” park in Redmond, Wash., providing a variety of recreational opportunities and a unique respite in the middle of an urbanized area.

A new, synthetic-turf soccer field helps prevent harmful runoff into nearby salmon-supporting streams.

After many years as a valuable regional amenity, the park’s fields and facilities were in need of renovation.

Poor drainage affected the park’s winter-use potential, while the community was emerging with changing recreational needs that the old park could no longer satisfy.

In response, the city’s parks department and the landscape-architecture firm of Bruce Dees & Associates developed several goals to improve the park to better sustain itself in the future:

1. Address negative environmental impacts

2. Reduce maintenance costs

3. Increase revenue to support other park-maintenance operations

4. Create a site that could meet the needs of the community.

Phase I

In order to accomplish these, the renovation was planned in three separate phases.

The first phase involved converting the existing sand soccer field to synthetic turf. The original field continually flooded due to insufficient, deteriorated drainage.

The runoff dramatically degraded the water quality in the storm-sewer system, which eventually empties into the salmon-supporting Sammamish River. The 2½-percent diagonal slope across the field caused severe erosion, with runoff filling the structures to capacity with silt.

Maintenance crews spent considerable time cleaning out catch basins and other structures during rain storms and winter months, and continuously struggled to contain the silt with sand bags and other erosion-control methods.

The plan for the renovated field called for a set level around the perimeter with a ½-percent center crown and a 10-foot-wide porous rubber-coated warning track. Surfaced with a permeable material, the track allowed for infiltration of rainwater without the necessary additional detention facilities, thus minimizing the footprint of the facility.

Today, there is literally no silt runoff from the field; subsequent tests prove that there are no harmful materials in the water, which percolates through the sand/rubber infill through the crushed rock base to the field’s new sub-drain lines.

The overwhelming success of the facility–now considered one of the area’s premier soccer venues–also can be attributed to a new floodlighting system. The installation dramatically increased playing time as well as revenue for the city.

One year prior to construction, the field generated $19,857 in revenue. After construction, the same renovated field generated $59,010 in revenue. This 297-percent increase was the result of an additional 924 hours of available use for field users.

A green roof and surface rain gardens are part of the sustainable renovation.

This increase in revenue helps fund maintenance in other parts of the park, allowing the facility to better sustain itself financially.

Phase II

During the second phase, one of the three grass softball fields was converted to synthetic turf. This allowed the field to serve both softball and summer youth soccer programs.

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