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Tough summer for field space

Jason Starr

SUMMIT COUNTY – The premium on local field space is getting higher. With more people wanting to do more activities, the demand for greenery is increasing. So is the demand on greenery.

To reduce the beating taken by Breckenridge’s prize field, Kingdom Park, the town has implemented a limited-use policy this summer. It is trying to save the field for games and major events and direct teams elsewhere for practices.

“(The fields) get hammered, and you have to get real aggressive to try to deal with it,” said Derf Soller, superintendent of the Breckenridge Golf Club and the town’s grass specialist. “Just because the field is there, people expect to use it. But it has to have a chance to grow, too.”

Since early spring, Soller and his crew have used aerification, seeding and tarps to help the grass grow. The work is ongoing, and as local clubs have noticed, the field is closed for weekday practices and open only for weekend games and tournaments.

“If we can keep the fields in excellent condition for events and limit practice time, that has to be a consideration,” Soller said.

Teams and clubs used to having unlimited use of Kingdom Park have been moved to Upper Blue Elementary or Carter Park for practice this summer. Recreation coordinator Diane McBride sent out letters over the winter to all the groups involved about the summer closures.

“All the teams have been very cooperative, which has helped out a ton,” McBride said.

There is Ultimate Frisbee, men’s and women’s soccer and the Blue Goose Rugby Club. All had to be displaced.

“As long as we have a field, I can’t complain,” said Ultimate Frisbee Club president B.J. Garcia. The club has moved practice to Upper Blue Elementary and Carter Park. “It’s not the spot we want, but that’s part of life.”

The only issues have been caused by a lack of intra-club communication. Also, there have been some questions about the fairness of High Country Soccer Association’s first-year adult league being allowed to use both Kingdom Park and Silverthorne’s Rainbow Park on Wednesday nights.

“It would be nice for everyone to have a day on it, but I know they’re trying to rest it,” Garcia said. “I’m just glad to be able to have it for the tournament (July 20-21).”

The Blue Goose Rugby Club has been practicing elsewhere but has been able to play its weekend games at Kingdom.

“It’s a little weird when you practice on a small field, to translate that to a big field,” said former Blue Goose player Don Leinweber.

In Silverthorne, the newly refurbished Rainbow Park goes to High Country Soccer exclusively on Wednesday nights and Tuesday and Thursday mornings. A new women’s rugby club, which practices Wednesday night, was bumped to Dillon City Park.

The rest of the time, Rainbow Park is used on a first-come, first-served basis, but it can be rented out.

“We’re trying to keep it an open space, like a community park,” said Silverthorne recreation coordinator Joanne Breigenzer.

The drought has exacerbated problems with overuse at both Kingdom and Rainbow parks, making changes in use even more necessary. But the discussions on field care began after last summer in Breckenridge, according to Soller.

McBride said the town is not sure what will happen next year. But as other sports and activities, like lacrosse, become more organized, field juggling will get harder, she said.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at jstarr@summitdaily.com.


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