Lower Macungie moves forward with artificial-turf planning February 25 2015

A pair of lighted artificial-turf fields planned for Lower Macungie's Quarry Park could accommodate up to three youth soccer games or four lacrosse games simultaneously, and would also be available for football and field hockey.
lRelated Lower Macungie taps company to install artificial turf

Township officials said Monday night that the fields, part of an estimated $3.3 million park improvement project, will go a long way in meeting the high demand for sports fields in the Lehigh Valley's third most populated municipality without compromising natural turf fields. They said it also will free up other parks for other uses for other age brackets.

But they're still weeks away from a final plan — and final price tag — that is expected to include fencing, parking, landscaping, shaded areas for parents to watch their children play on the fields and possibly a dog park.

Members of the Board of Commissioners' Public Works and Facilities Committee said they'll create a committee of staff members and commissioners to work over the next several weeks with Grace Industries Inc. of Bath and Architerra Inc. of Coopersburg, the two firms working on the project, to create a final design for the 35-acre park along Quarry Road.

"We'd like to get this to the Public Works Committee to come up with a final plan so we can keep moving on this project," Township Manager Bruce Fosselman said. "We want to keep the momentum going."

He said the committee could have a final plan by next month, but said ground wouldn't be broken on the project until mid-August at the earliest because the township needs about 120 days to obtain permits from the state before moving ahead.

Commissioners last week selected AstroTurf to design the project — Grace Industries is the firm's local contractor — and apply synthetic grass. The board also agreed to pay up to $60,000 to its engineering firm to begin its work on the project.

The township chose AstroTurf from three synthetic turf manufacturers listed by the Cooperative Purchasing Network, of which the township is a member. The network allows the township to select a company without putting it out for bid and paying the costs associated with that bidding process.

Fosselman said the purchase of the turf and its installation will cost $3.25 per square foot for 180,000 square foot, or $585,000. The cost for additional improvements has not been determined, but township officials have said they are hopeful the final price tag will be below the $3.3 million earmarked for the project in the 2015 budget.

Dave Horne of Architerra said the township would get the "biggest value" with the size of the fields proposed.

He said the fields were designed to accommodate high school soccer games, dimensions that would allow the township to use the field for field hockey, lacrosse and football as well.

"It will give you maximum versatility in use," he said.

The commissioners moved forward with the project despite opposition from residents, some of whom said the field improvements would benefit a small percentage of the township's more than 31,000 residents. Township resident Chris Donatelli reminded the committee that the township also needs to provide recreation activities for adults as well.

Said Commissioner Brian Higgins: "For me, that's a big deal, making sure everyone is taken care of equally."