Aventura explores idea of artificial turf

A plan to remove natural grass from Aventura parks and replacing it with artificial turf is meeting with resistance from residents.

The proposed locations are Founders Park – 3105 NE 190th St. – and Waterways Park – 3301 NE 213th St. – two of the North Miami-Dade city’s biggest and most visited grasslands, according to City Manager Ronald Wasson. He said the change would save maintenance costs and keep the parks beautiful year round.

Children play many sports there such as soccer, baseball, and football. Families visit most afternoons to enjoy the sun and play.

Almost a year ago, the Miami Herald published an article about a similar change in Brickell, where residents and others took to the streets to protest the “tacky” grass, saying they were concerned about global warming and dog waste.

Wasson said while working for the city of Rockville Centre in New York, he oversaw a similar program. It resulted in the expansion of the town’s sports program.

South Florida has substantial downpours throughout the year, so the change aims to increase player time on the fields. “The artificial turf would require no pesticides, no treatments, no lawnmowers, and it would avoid drainage in the field from heavy rainfall, allowing the residents to play more than they do now,” said Wasson.

A park such as Founders, which is 12 acres, would cost approximately $1.3 million to $1.5 million to cover.  It would result in an even field without holes.

Still, some Aventura residents say they have concerns.

Izhak Kashani, a father of two, uses Founders Park field frequently to play soccer with his kids. He said he likes the fact the field is natural grass. “We cannot make the whole world fake… I’ve lived in Aventura for nine years and this is our favorite field,” said Kashani, 45.

Other parents said they worry about the city’s need to constantly seem flawless.

“Kids nowadays have very little contact with nature…with the natural grass you breath fresh air. Not everything has to be perfect, for Aventura it’s always about appearances,” said Claudia Santa Maria.

Santa Maria has been bringing her 14-year-old son to Founders Park for years. Her goal is to keep her son active and outdoors. She has visited parks with synthetic grass and claims that the fake grass still floods when it rains and is too hot to sit on.

Aventura of Excellence School’s playground area currently has artificial grass. During a City Commission meeting on the proposal, officials focused on the ACES field as a model.

However, there has been no formal action on the plan, and Wasson said currently there is no timeline. Commissioners thought they had the funding, but they still need to crunch the numbers. If the city decides to go through with the plan, construction would take about six months per park.

Mariana Vargas is a senior at FIU majoring in journalism. She was born in Bogota, Colombia but grew up in Miami. Her passion for writing led her to journalism. She strives to write stories that bring awareness to special causes and inspire others. She hopes to one day travel the world, writing stories of the different people she encounters.