On March 23, the Town of Chapel Hill conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the reopening of the Cedar Falls Park athletic fields following recent turf and lighting renovations.
The Town used funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Orange County Community Climate Action Grant Program to carry out the renovations in January and February.
According to Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, the field is set for renovations every 10 years, and the focus for this year's renovations was safety and sustainability.
"It just gets a lot of use," Hemminger said. "It’s great that it’s environmentally friendly now, and it’s cooler for the kids and has the shock pad underneath. We’re really taking both durability and safety into account here.”
John Richardson, the community sustainability manager for the Town of Chapel Hill, led the sustainability efforts with new LED lights.
He said the lights use about 40 percent less energy than the previous lights, which will prevent about 320 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the 25-year life expectancy. According to the Town, the lights will also reduce emissions by nearly 30,000 pounds per year.
Additionally, he said, since the lights do not have to be replaced as often, they are also good for maintenance. Richardson said that these lights are a meaningful climate change action for Chapel Hill.
“This is all really important because we have community goals around climate action and carbon reduction," Richardson said at the event. "So projects like this are really key to taking steps forward in that way."
The lights weren’t the only part of the field's renovation, though.
Kevin Robinson, the senior planning and park operations manager for the Town, said the innovations with artificial turf help the field to be safe, durable, cool and climate-conscious.
The turf has a nonwoven, geotextile shock pad underneath that could reduce concussions for athletes. Robinson said he hopes people of all ages will be able to play on the field.
“I think the main thing is really providing a rewarding play site for players and really goes to all ages, not even those that are just with organized teams, but sometimes when it's not organized," Robinson said. "You could come out here, you can see a parent kicking the ball with their child.”
When it comes to durability, the field can endure almost all types of weather because of its rapid drainage system and has the longevity to hold practices and events year-round.
“So those two things together allow us to basically use the fields all the time unless it is lightning or they have snow on them,” Robinson said at the event.
The field's infill contains recycled elements as well as natural cork and premier-grade elastomers. These components contribute to the overall sustainability effort and include cooling properties, unlike other infills on the market.
“We’re very excited to provide the Chapel Hill community with such high-quality, safe and attractive athletic fields,” Robinson said.
Atuya Cornwell, the Town's interim director of parks and recreation operations, said he was excited about the new opportunities the field provides.
“It provides numerous opportunities for different sports like lacrosse and soccer, and we’re looking even internally from that perspective to be able to start some new programs to have those introductory clinics,” Cornwell said.
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