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Stagecoach Park may get an artificial turf field thanks to the Wetzel family and its nonprofit, the Teddy Wetzel Memorial Field Project. The Evergreen Park & Recreation District board has given …
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Stagecoach Park may get an artificial turf field thanks to the Wetzel family and its nonprofit, the Teddy Wetzel Memorial Field Project.
The Evergreen Park & Recreation District board has given the family the initial go-ahead to move forward with the project that would put artificial turf on the existing playing field that is frequently used for lacrosse.
Scot and Charlotte Wetzel told the EPRD board at its April 27 meeting that they originally wanted to turn a gravel field off of Buffalo Park Road between Evergreen High School and Wilmot Elementary School into an artificial turf field. It would honor their son, Robert Edward “Teddy” Wetzel, who died on Aug. 5, 2017. He was a rising sophomore at Evergreen High School.
The family hit some snags with Jefferson County Planning & Zoning, and rather than push the project timeline out further, it decided to switch gears to the Stagecoach Park project.
EPRD staff said an artificial turf would save the district money in irrigating and maintaining the current grass field, calling the proposal a win-win for the community and the rec district. However, EPRD board members were concerned about finding the approximately $35,000 each year to put into a reserve account to replace the artificial turf every 10 years.
The district already saves money each year to replace the artificial turf field in Marshdale.
The project’s timeline is rushed because the nonprofit’s two major donors — the Daniels Fund and the El Pomar Foundation —expect the field to be completed this summer. The Wetzels will meet with the foundations to learn whether they will approve a location change, and EPRD staff said they would get more detailed answers on the costs to install the field.
The Wetzels said if the two foundations approve the field switch, they would need to get the EPRD board’s official approval in the next couple of weeks, and board members agreed to have a special meeting if everything lined up. The Wetzels hope to have the field installed by July 30.
Scot Wetzel said the family’s nonprofit has raised about $650,000 for the turf field and any extra money after construction would be given to EPRD to start a replacement fund. He estimated it would cost between $450,000 and $550,000 to install the Stagecoach field and suggested that the 87,000-square-foot artificial turf field could be striped in such a way for two to three playing fields.
Heart Cameron, EPRD’s park operations manager, called the grass field at Stagecoach Park challenging.
“I can see the merit to having a turf field out there,” he told the EPRD board, noting the field isn’t used for nearly half of the year. An artificial turf field would allow the area to be used longer each year for camps or other events, and the proceeds would help offset replacement costs.
“I think it’s a good idea, and we could come up with some ways for funding mechanisms if we think outside the box,” Cameron said. “We could do some different things out there.”
He suggested fencing the field to keep elk and other wildlife off the artificial turf.
Board President Peter Lindquist, whose sons played lacrosse on the grass field, said an artificial turf field would provide “unmitigated improvement.” He called the uneven terrain and holes in front of the goals on the grass field problematic.
The Wetzels were pleased that the EPRD board was willing to work with them.
“We are interested in seeing this happen,” Scot Wetzel said. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to try to move this forward.”
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