ShareThis Page

Mt. Lebanon requires match for money to install artificial turf on playing fields

Matthew Santoni
| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 7:52 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon sports groups will have to raise $250,000 if they want to unlock $750,000 that the commissioners set aside for installing artificial turf on municipal playing fields.

The commissioners voted Monday to transfer $500,000 from previous years' unspent reserves and $137,400 from another field improvement project to install artificial turf at Wildcat and Middle fields, a pair of baseball diamonds with overlapping outfields in Mt. Lebanon Park, just off Cedar Boulevard, converting them into a multi-sport field. An additional $112,600 will be designated in the 2014 budget.

But Mt. Lebanon will sign over the money only if the sports groups pushing for the artificial turf can raise their share of the estimated $1 million installation cost, Commissioner John Bendel said.

“If we don't come up with the money, it doesn't happen,” said Dave Franklin, one of the residents and advisory board members who had been pressing to turf a field. “I don't think any other initiative in this community has ever asked its stakeholders to step up and come up with this kind of money.”

The plan also will establish a team of municipal and sports representatives responsible for:

• Setting field-use fees that would cover the costs of maintenance and eventual turf replacement.

• Drafting a maintenance agreement with the Mt. Lebanon School District, which would handle day-to-day upkeep on the field in exchange for playing time.

• Preparing a list of turf vendors, and presenting their recommendations to the Sports Advisory Board and the commission by February.

The vote was 3-2, with Commissioners Kelly Fraasch and Matt Kluck opposed.

Fraasch said other projects should have taken priority over turf installation, such as improvements to Robb Hollow Park or the golf course. She also worried that the language of the resolution wasn't strong enough in favor of “eco-friendly” artificial turf that uses materials such as cork instead of crumbled rubber tire pieces as filler.

Kluck said he didn't like paying for much of the project with the municipality's revenues or unspent money that he called the result of an “over-tax.” Kluck also said municipal funds would be needed to replace the turf in several years.

“The anticipation of continued undesignated funds in this proposal is a weak spot,” he said.

Residents Elaine Gillen and James Cannon III spoke against the project, with Gillen opposing the long-term costs, and Cannon questioning the necessity of the project and arguments that such an amenity would draw new residents.

“A lack of artificial turf to date hasn't prevented people from moving here, and I don't see that changing,” Cannon said.

Franklin said he is glad to have the municipal commitment to a project, which he could point to when soliciting corporate and private donations.

The Mt. Lebanon School District also is in the midst of a campaign to raise $6 million toward capital improvements and programs of its own.

“The rest of it is up to us,” he said. “We'd never had a project before that we could go out and ask about, and sell. I was a salesman without a product.”

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.