In a perfect example of Seattle-plays- soccer-year-round: A driving rainstorm pounded down on the ceremony marking the completion of the first Pro Parks Levy construction project at Genesee Playfield. It was especially fitting because on that wet and windy Saturday in October, Genesee's brand-spanking-new artificial turf soccer pitch was likely the only field in Seattle a person could stand on and not sink into 3 inches of mud.
"It's very nice," said Conor Marshall, a sophomore at Franklin High School, as he paused along the sideline. "The ball moves, it doesn't stop like on that field"-he nodded his head to the much overused, puddle-strewn lower field.
Genesee is only one of many projects that voters funded in November 2000 with the $198.2 million levy for Seattle Parks and Recreation. Over 100 citywide projects include improved athletic fields (by far the biggest chunk, over $100 million), green space acquisition, dog runs, bike trails, new zoo programs, expanded recreation programs for seniors, and funding for swimming lessons for third-graders.
The levy also provides $10 million toward an "Opportunity Fund," which allows citizens to identify their own neighborhood projects (Dec. 17 deadline, www.ci.seattle. wa.us/parks).
"Everybody loves the field, they love to play on it," said Terry Holme, co-president of the Mount Baker/Lakewood Soccer Club, a group that will play many games on the new Genesee field in the years to come. "It increases the sense of pride in the community. Without question, it will be the field kids want to play soccer on. The 'pride in the product' gives a big boost and spills over into the neighborhood."
The Genesee field improvements, which all told cost nearly $1 million, utilize the same artificial turf as Husky Stadium and the new Seahawks stadium. Built to withstand the onslaught of year-round soccer cleats and inclement weather, it is composed of 2-inch synthetic "grass" fibers, then filled in with a carefully measured mixture of recycled tire rubber and sand. Regular brushing keeps it in tip-top condition. An elaborate layering system under the field—Genesee was once a landfill—ensures excellent drainage. Lights are on the schedule for next fall; that will double the number of games played on the field, helping ease the severe shortage of soccer space in Seattle for youth and adults.
Ironically, sunlight is more likely to wear the field out, not the wear and tear of scheduling, according to Holme. On opening day, at least, that was pretty hard to believe.