Golden chooses natural grass for Ulysses Park multi-use fields

City says fields could be operational by late 2024

Corinne Westeman
cwesteman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/16/23

By Jan. 1, 2025, Golden officials hope to have two natural grass multi-use fields installed at Ulysses Park. Shortly after, the city can stop using Rooney Road Sports Complex, allowing the site to revert to Jeffco Open Space use.

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Golden chooses natural grass for Ulysses Park multi-use fields

City says fields could be operational by late 2024

Posted

By Jan. 1, 2025, Golden officials hope to have two natural grass multi-use fields installed at Ulysses Park. At that point, the city could stop using Rooney Road Sports Complex, allowing the site to revert to Jeffco Open Space use.

On Jan. 10, Golden City Council directed staff to pursue natural grass fields over artificial turf at Ulysses Park. While the latter would offer users more playable hours, most councilors preferred grass for financial reasons and health, safety and environmental concerns.

The city intends to install the two multi-use fields where the two southernmost baseball fields are, and is working on a final design for an updated Ulysses Park.

According to Parks & Recreation Director Rod Tarullo, the capital costs of installing two natural grass fields would be about $5.7 million. But, putting in artificial turf would cost about $2 million more.

However, his staff also found that annual maintenance for grass would cost $98,372 versus turf’s $44,973.

Looking at a 10-year period, including installation and maintenance, Parks & Recreation staff determined that two artificial turf fields would cost $8.1 million total. Meanwhile, two natural grass fields would cost $6.7 million.

Thus, staff recommended City Council pursue the two grass multi-use fields, which they said could be installed by end of 2024.

The project was already approved in the city’s 2023 budget. Thus, staff said the next step will be presenting the final designs for City Council’s approval, which will likely be in the fall.

City officials said they’d heard mixed feedback on whether locals preferred grass or turf. Some Rooney Road field users, like Colorado Ice Soccer, preferred the turf option as it would give them more playing time during the colder months.

Councilor Don Cameron also leaned toward turf for how many additional hours it’d give local teams to practice and play. However, he acknowledged he was in the minority as all the other councilors seemed to favor grass.

The decision ultimately came down to costs for Councilor JJ Trout, as she said, “I definitely value kiddos playing outside and being active, but I also have to make financial decisions for the entire city.”

Councilor Casey Brown pointed out how the community’s list of wants for parks and recreation opportunities hasn’t changed much over the years. There’s always interest in additional pickleball courts or new playground equipment, he said, adding, “We have to be balancing how we’re paying for all those things.”

Councilor Paul Haseman was confident Tarullo’s staff could maximize playing time on natural grass. He also pointed out that, if the grass doesn't work and there's more demand than expected, the city could always reconsider installing turf at Ulysses Park.

Leaving Rooney Road

Since August, officials have discussed not renewing Golden’s lease at Rooney Road Sports Complex, which is up in 2026, and building multi-use fields at Ulysses Park instead. With the Ulysses Park plan moving forward, city staff members said they were deciding how to handle the exit from RRSC — whether to stay through the end of the lease or leave early.

RRSC opened in 2007, and the city has a 20-year lease for $100. The fields, which are atop a former county landfill, are at the end of their life cycle and need to be replaced.

Jeffco Open Space owns the complex and the surrounding Tincup Ridge Park, which it’s hoping to develop more in the coming years.

If Golden decided to renew the lease, Jeffco would shrink the lease boundaries and turn one of the fields into a slash processing center, Tarullo has previously described.

Thus, Golden officials have said moving multiuse fields from Rooney Road to Ulysses Park would give the city better amenities at a site it has more control over.

Additionally, RRSC has experienced subsidence over the last 15 years, and Tarullo has said there’s no guarantee that it won’t experience more subsidence if Golden updates the fields. Plus, the site has limited amenities — portable restrooms, temporary light fixtures and no landscaping — to ensure nothing punctures the former landfill.

With Golden deciding to move multi-use fields to Ulysses Park, the city must return RRSC to its original state, per its lease agreement with the county. Tarullo has previously estimated $976,000 to $1.35 million, but said Golden might be able to negotiate that down.

golden, city, council, ulysses, park, multi, use, fields, natural, grass, artificial, turf, rooney, road, sports, complex, jeffco, open, space, tincup, ridge

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