Artificial Turf Cost Controversy

By: 
Bill Pearl

Internal city staff communications sought and obtained by this writer show that within weeks of telling the public and Long Beach’s Parks and Recreation Commission (Nov. 2019) that an El Dorado Park artificial turf soccer field would cost roughly $1.5 million, city staff realized this was no longer accurate because existing funding had been consumed by installing two other artificial turf fields (Admiral Kidd and Seaside Park.)

Following city staff email exchanges on the matter, on Feb. 11, 2020, acting City Manager Tom Modica emailed Budget Manager Grace Yoon: “This project goes back several years – it was originally awarded funding, then that funding was used to fund the other artificial turf fields as they were project ready and now are back to finding funding to honor that original commitment and complete the project.”

Per Modica, city staff added $850,000 to the El Dorado Park field’s proposed budgeted cost for a new cost of $2.35 million ($1.5 million plus $850,000.)

A few minutes later on Feb. 11, Financial Management Director John Gross emailed Modica: “Your explanation sounds potentially [politically] problematic to me – but as long as you are comfy with it... I asked Grace [Yoon] to ask you so we didn’t say the wrong thing, if we are asked.”

In seeking Nov. 21, 2019 Parks and Recreation Commission approval (for the then-represented $1.5 million sum), city staff wrote in a publicly agendized memo: “The Parks, Recreation and Marine Department will be responsible for maintenance of the artificial turf sports field. Funding for this cost has not been identified and will be requested as part of the FY21 budget process.”

That hasn’t happened. The El Dorado Park artificial turf maintenance cost isn’t publicly listed in the city’s FY 21 budget. The ongoing cost Long Beach taxpayers citywide would pay for maintenance remains publicly unknown, undiscussed and to this writer’s knowledge publicly unbudgeted.

Project opponent Ann Cantrell has publicly raised the issue that the artificial turf field will also require the use of more costly potable water (instead of recycled water). City staff hasn’t publicly denied this and hasn’t provided taxpayer cost figures for ongoing use of costlier potable water instead of recycled water.

On Sept. 8, 2020, the City Council voted 9-0 to approve a FY21 City Hall budget that includes a line item budgeting $2.35 million for the El Dorado Park artificial turf field. City staff then swiftly put installation of the field out to bid. The lowest five bids received are public record and lower than city staff had expected but the bids are to construct/install the new field and don’t show ongoing Parks and Recreation maintenance costs.

City staff put a Measure A brochure online indicating the total cost of the artificial turf field would be $3.11 million (an unexplained increase of roughly $760,000 over what the council publicly budgeted.) This sum was and is an estimate but city staff hasn’t provided information on the proposed source of those funds or for what purpose(s) they were estimated.

Councilwoman Mungo has recently floated the idea of installing small artificial turf fields instead of one full sized one, but to our knowledge hasn’t conducted public outreach on the idea or agendized it for referral to LB’s Parks/Rec Commission or for Council discussion. In December, the Council may vote to approve a city staff recommended bid or change the project or say “no” and reallocate the artificial turf field’s current uncertain total cost to other city needs

Bill Pearl publishes lbreport.com, an online local news source since August 2000.

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Comments

Another boondoggle by this gang that can't even shoot themselves properly. Ms. Mungo likely has her hand in a cookie jar for this artificial turf, a product that has little practicable use and causes injury to small, developing bodies. But never mind; this "clown"cil prefers to spend our money on worthless, infantile projects that benefit them, not us.

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