Dead grass at new fields raises tourney questions


The grass on playing fields at the Lake Shore athletic complex has died, turning the fields brown and delaying the opening of most of the long-awaited park.

Officials at the county Department of Recreation and Parks say the park will be open Aug. 20 for the seventh annual Mountain Road Soccer Tournament. But only three of the 10 fields will be used.

But members of the Lake Shore Recreation Council and the Mountain Road soccer league say they will meet Aug. 8 to decide whether to hold the tournament at Lake Shore or at Bodkin Park in Pasadena.

"We'll wait and see how well the fields improve over the next week and then make our decision about where to play," said Rich Shepley, soccer league commissioner. "We want to play at the park if possible, but we also don't want to tear up the fields and make them any worse."

Tom Donlin, deputy director of Recreation and Parks, said the fields would be "in fair condition" in time for the tournament.

"They won't be the best facilities with the dying grass, but teams will be able to play on them," he said.

A contractor will be selected within the next week to reseed the three multipurpose fields that may be used for the soccer tournament, said Jay Cuccia, chief of special facilities for Recreation and Parks. The remaining seven fields will be aerated and reseeded this fall.

One multipurpose field will be used for the fall football season and for spring baseball games, Mr. Cuccia said. He said he hopes all fields can be used by spring 1995.

"No one is to blame, it's just one of those unfortunate cases with Mother Nature where the grass was coming in beautifully in April and May, and now it's all brown and looks like a door mat," Mr. Cuccia said.

"It's gone past the dormant stage to dead."

The turf grass was planted last fall by Robert W. Childs Landscaping Contractors Inc. of Arnold, Mr. Cuccia said. But the company had to haul more than 100 truckloads of water from a fire hydrant 3 miles away because the 180-foot well at the complex is not equipped to handle an irrigation system.

None of the county's recreation facilities have irrigation systems because officials say the installation and operating costs of a watering system exceed the costs of reseeding the fields.

"We would love to have an irrigation system for all our fields, but it's not possible at this time because we don't have the personnel to run the system," Mr. Donlin said. "We have to rely on Mother Nature."

The rain of the past few weeks will help re-establish the fields, but county officials say the early weeks of high humidity and low moisture severely damaged the grass.

"The drought over the past month and a half did a number on the fields," Mr. Cuccia said. "The rain we're getting now is a case of getting too little, too late. We needed it about two to three weeks ago to really get the roots established."

Last week, soil tests from three fields did not show anything abnormal in the dirt, according to Mr. Cuccia.

The county also will have to move the complex's well because it was built too close to the storage building. State health department regulations require a well to be 30 feet from a building. The complex's well is 9 feet away from the building.

When recreation officials decided to extend the storage building, they overlooked the location of the well, explained Jack Keene, chief of planning and construction for the Lake Shore site.

The existing well can be used until a new well is drilled if it passes inspection, said Spencer Franklin, deputy director of Community and Environmental Health. The county has 30 to 60 days to drill a new well, Mr. Franklin said.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad