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Seattle Parks says Cal Anderson experiment with cork-filled field a winner

With Seattle kids swarming playfields for fall soccer, Seattle Parks and Recreation tells CHS the department’s experiment at Cal Anderson using a new more environmentally friendly cork base for its turf fields has been enough of a success to roll the solution out at more locations in the city.

“We will be using the same synthetic turf system that we installed at Cal Anderson at Brighton and Soundview playfields and are in the process of updating our specifications for future synthetic turf conversion and replacement projects,” a Seattle Parks rep tells CHS.

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The new cork-filled field turf was installed on Cal Anderson’s Bobby Morris Playfield two years ago.

The $1 million project replaced the playfield’s 10-year-old and in need of replacement crumb rubber surface with a new experimental cork and sand alternative. There is some evidence crumb rubber fields using materials made from recycled tires could be contaminating fields and there are concerns the crumb rubber fields are exposing people to dangerous chemicals.

Seattle Parks also looked at alternatives involving material like coconut husks, a mineral-like sand, and a synthetic material but ultimately went with the new cork product after visits from several manufacturers who came to Seattle to pitch their creations. The cork-sand fill costs about 35 to 45% more than crumb rubber, according to Seattle Parks.

As for performance, two years of use shows Bobby Morris holding up pretty well to daily activities from pick-up soccer to ultimate frisbee matches and the field doesn’t smell like an auto garage on warm, sunny days.

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