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Poll: Do you support replacing Simpson Park’s fields with synthetic turf?

Simpson Park overhaul plans (image via City of Alexandria)

Eugene Simpson Stadium Park is going from natural turf to artificial turf, and feelings in the community seem decidedly mixed.

At a meeting this past Saturday, the City Council voted unanimously in favor of a new plan that will replace the field with synthetic turf. Sentiment in the public hearing was mixed, with some concerned about issues like creating a heat island and others saying the synthetic turf will make the fields more usable.

“I specifically want to call out the need for synthetic turf at big Simpson Field,” said Alexandria Little League President Sherry Reilly. “The lack of big fields in the city means the entire Alexandria baseball community uses the two current fields almost non-stop. Having only two big fields shared by all the baseball organizations as well as the collegiate team means that we use the fields constantly during spring, summer and fall baseball seasons. It is a crazy game of Tetris trying to fit all of these organizations onto our two big fields.”

But others said they were concerned that the artificial turf, which often gets hotter than regular grass fields, may make sports unplayable for more of the year than current weather problems do.

“I’m not sure how many of you have been on the fields during the summer but they exceed 120 degrees,” said nearby resident Brian Collins. “I’ve heard the proposal increases playability, but I haven’t heard any mention of loss due to heat.”

Even on the City Council, feelings were mixed about the artificial turf. City Council Kirk McPike said that while artificial turf isn’t ideal, he was of the belief that it was better than leaving the fields inaccessible due to rain.

Alexandria resident Jeremy Flachs noted in the comments that there are concerning signs that artificial turf may have been at least partially responsible for cancers developed by athletes in Philadelphia.

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