SportsTurf

August 2018

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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density of population per square mile according to the US Census. There are 18 parks throughout Oak Park totaling 88 acres of green space with many amenities for citizens to explore and play. All parks are open for the community to use throughout the day, including athletic fields. Organized team sports must have a permit to use the field. We manage 16 athletic fields as well as seven additional fields for the school district with a budget of $85,000, which does not include labor. We manage all of the fields primarily the same throughout the year. Longfellow Park, as well as the rest of the parks in the Village of Oak Park, is pesticide/herbicide free. When I first started working at the park district (4 years ago), many of the fields were approximately 75% infested with weeds. Chemically controlling weeds was not an option. We had to really focus our emphasis on increasing our turf maintenance practices and experimenting with different options to compete with weed pressure. To coordinate these sustainable practices we have developed and implemented an IPM strategy in our environmental policy. Longfellow Park is a staple within the Oak Park community. The word multi-purpose could not be more fitting for this particular field. From U10 soccer, baseball/softball, lacrosse, Frisbee and football, athletes within the community use this green space throughout the year. Additionally, various members of the Oak Park community enjoy the park space for sunbathing, picnicking, and dog walking. Maintaining this heavily used park, using a herbicide/pesticide- free regimen comes with its challenges, but we believe we have developed a strong maintenance plan to meet the needs of the community. Longfellow Park was one of the first fields to receive STMA Environmental Facility Certification, and it also was awarded the 2016 ILSTMA Field of the Year. As a 2015 National Gold Medal winner, the Park District of Oak Park is proud to maintain this community space at the highest standards for our community to enjoy. SportsTurf: What are your job responsibilities? STEPHEN: Our park district has a total of 18 parks, totaling 82 acres of green space with various amenities for citizens to explore and play. My responsibilities include the turf management and maintenance for 16 park district athletic fields as well as seven additional athletic field spaces with the local school district. Additional responsibilities include the management of all non- athletic lawn spaces throughout our parks to ensure they are maintained at a professional level. ST: What attracted you to this industry? STEPHEN: Having grown up on a dairy farm in Ohio, I always had an interest in turf management and maintenance. At the time, I never knew that a turfgrass career existed (many people echo this sentiment when I tell them what my career is!). During my youth, I attended many professional sporting events and was always in awe at how well maintained those athletic surfaces were and had a true appreciation for all the hard work that was spent to make it look perfect. In college, I came to the realization that my desire to learn more about turf management was a possibility and pursing an agronomic career could be a reality. ST: What do you do that's the most enjoyable? STEPHEN: I really enjoy being able to give back to the community of Oak Park. We manage all of our athletic fields at the highest level possible for the community to enjoy. During my childhood, we were lucky that our athletic fields had grass growing www.spor tsturfonline.com 44 // August 2018

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