City Council approves contract for soccer turf as part of Destination O’Fallon project

Aldermen Matt Gilreath and Matt Smallheer inspect the sample of turf to be installed at the Sports Park provided by the Parks and Recreation Department. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council voted to approve a resolution that would confirm an agreement that would see construction begin this week on the soccer fields at the Family Sports Park as part of the Destination O’Fallon project.

The agreement was made with Byrne & Jones Construction at a cost not to exceed $4.6 million. As part of the agreement, the construction of these fields will be completed by August 1, 2017, and the fields will come with an eight year warranty.

During the public comment, a representative from a local company that also develops sports fields expressed he didn’t feel the project was bid out properly and would have liked a chance to bid. However, Alderman Matt Smallheer pointed out that, due to the type of turf selected by the Parks and Recreation Department, the company selected would allow the city to retain the warranty whereas the other local company would not.

“The way I see it is we have a professional staff we’ve trusted to choose a product and they’ve chosen this product, Shaw. I know nothing about astroturf and so I trust your opinion is the way to go. My concern with this whole thing is that if we put the labor out to bid, we’re going to lose our warranty on this product. We have to use a certified installer of Shaw products in order to get our eight year warranty. So if we trust our staff to choose a product, and now we have someone else install it, who may install it cheaper, we’re going to lose an eight year warranty on one heck of an investment,” said Smallheer. “I’m not comfortable jeopardizing that warranty so I will be voting yes.”

Aldermen Ned Drolet and Herb Roach both spoke out against the agreement saying they would have liked to have seen it bid locally.

“The company we’ve got the proposal from is a good company and they use a good product, but when we’re talking about spending this many dollars, we need to go out and get bids on it. I would like to see us go out to get other bids on this project,” said Roach.

Alderman Matt Gilreath stated he put his faith in the Parks and Recreation Department and their research into what type of turf the city should purchase.

“Our staff has spent four months, don’t let people tell you this is getting thrown together and rammed though. Its been four months of research, questions, studies. If this is the recommendation that they have, its good,” Gilreath said. He went on to say that he agreed with Smallheer that the warranty was important to preserve.

The agreement was approved by an eight to four vote. Aldermen Drolet, Roach, Robert Kueker, and Courtney Marsh voted against the proposal. Alderman Jerry Albrecht was unable to attend the meeting.

The Parks and Recreation Department said it is important to begin construction immediately so that the fields will be open by the fall soccer season. The city has interest in scheduling as many as eight soccer tournaments this fall in addition to league games and field rental by regional soccer clubs.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place on Tuesday, March 21.