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Donation to power renovation of ‘swampy’ Montlake Playfield

Following public meetings — and a generous offer — Seattle Parks says the renovation of the Montlake Playfield will go forward. Seattle and Fontana, California-based contractor Ohno Construction is making an unspecified donation to replace the natural — and usually muddy — grass field with synthetic turf. We’ll check with Parks to find out more about the donation and cost of the project. Ohno also has donated work recently to overhaul the Garfield baseball diamond. The Montlake work won’t include the area’s running track. Planning on the project will begin in 2012.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is moving forward with renovations to the Montlake Playfield football/soccer field that will solve long-term problems with soggy, swampy ground and provide a great space that will be available year-round for community use.

 The renovation, which includes replacement of the current surface with a synthetic turf surface and the work that will create the needed undersurface for the field, is made possible by a generous donation from Ohno Construction. This surface will mean less daily and annual maintenance and will make the field safe, playable, and available much more often for community events.

 Parks held two public meetings at the Montlake Community Center on October 10 and 13 to describe the proposed improvements to park neighbors and users.

 Today the field is virtually unplayable. The site was surrounded by “low, swampy ground covered with swamp grass and rushes,” according to a 1937 letter from the City Engineer. The low basin that is now the playfield was originally a peat bog.Despite repeated filling over the years, the playfield has been only intermittently playable because of uneven pressures on the viscous peat below that cause upheavals in the playfield area and shore lands. Field conditions continue to deteriorate and require seasonal renovation projects every year, including reseeding of the entire field, removal of existing turf, and importing thousands of pounds of sand and sod.

 The renovated field will Increase playable hours, promote safety with an even surface, reduce the year-round and annual costs of field maintenance, reduce the expense of field preparation, conserve water, and reduce the use of fertilizer and soil amendments. There is no proposal for lighted fields in the project.

 This generous donation will keep the field playable for school and organized sportsfields and available for community use for years to come. The turf field has been expensive to maintain, out of service for long periods every year because of the need for renovations, not hospitable to competitive play, and not a good surface for community festivals and other events. 

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