After observing the current status of the turf field at Cedar Falls Park, the town of Chapel Hill in conjunction with Orange County should immediately move this repair to the top of each municipality’s expenditure list. I am certain that both municipalities' lists are very long, but the condition of this field is both atrociously bad and unsafe. There is literally no artificial grass to be seen fully exposing the base surface and rubberized crumble material.
This field along with the Homestead field are providing recreational opportunities as advertised, 7 days per week and 365 days per year availability. A good portion of the use brings in significant rental revenue that is generated by residents from all areas of Orange County and other counties. This revenue should be sequestered annually and accumulated to remain available to fund the required periodic playing surface replacement. Given the use and weather conditions it now seems that the actual usable life span is no more than 8 years. An adjustment to the field rental rates should be reviewed, keeping in mind that there are two sets of fields where playing surface replacement will be needed every 8 years or so. Staggering these at one every 3 to 4 years seems logical and better suited to funding. The pay-it-forward financing model used to fund the Homestead field turf project disallowed the accumulation of rental revenue for the required future turf field surface replacement. This is merely a loan that requires debt servicing.
The current rental revenue is estimated to be approximately $200,000 each year. The current cost estimate to replace the Cedar Falls turf field is $1,000,000.
Please take the time to visit both the Cedar Falls and Homestead turf fields. Cedar Falls is approximately 9 years old and Homestead approximately 3 years old. The Cedar Falls field was absolutely stunning at its opening and is now a severe blemish amongst the recreational offerings in Orange County. Please immediately restore this asset to its full value for continued use throughout Orange County.
Neal and Jeanette Bench
Residents and Advocate for Chapel Hill and Orange County
Mr. and Ms. Bench:
Thank you for your email regarding the status of the artificial turf fields at the Town of Chapel Hill’s Cedar Falls Park and Homestead Park.
As you know, both facilities are owned and operated by the Town of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department. While the County included funds in a 1997 Countywide bond referendum toward the original construction of Homestead Park, the County is not involved in any synthetic turf fields constructed there, or the financial arrangements made for those fields.
In the case of Cedar Falls Park, Orange County did agree to provide $623,000 from the 2001 County Parks and Open Space bond funds (Soccer Superfund) to help construct the synthetic turf fields as part of planned Town upgrades at Cedar Falls. An inter-local agreement regarding this arrangement was approved by the County on December 14, 2010. Upon this contribution to the Town for the installation of the fields, the construction, operation, scheduling, maintenance and revenue produced from those fields belongs to the Town. No further indication of financial contribution was provided by the County toward field replacement costs (as noted in Section 2.F of the inter-local agreement). This was a one-time financial contribution toward these fields.
In fact, Section 2.F of the inter-local agreement states:
“F. No Additional Capital Investment. Orange County shall not be responsible for any amounts in excess of $623,000 for installation of the turf as provided in Section 2A. In the event development is unsuccessful, damage occurs, the artificial turf surface requires repair or replacement or further improvements/phases are desired, Orange County is not responsible for providing funding.”
As such, the County’s Capital Investment Plan does not include funding for field replacement such as this at Town parks.
I am sorry to hear that the field condition at Cedar Falls has deteriorated, and suggest you contact the Town of Chapel Hill regarding field replacement plans. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you.
Bonnie B. Hammersley
Orange County Manager
300 W Tryon Street
P.O. Box 8181
Hillsborough, NC 27278