a_soccer_ball.pngOpponents of a plan to replace the Beach Chalet grass soccer fields in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park with synthetic turf and lighting Tuesday filed an appeal of the project with the city’s Board of Supervisors.

On May 24, the city’s Planning Commission and Recreation and Park Commission both approved the project at the roughly 7-acre site on the western end of the park.

Opponents of the plan, including the groups SF Ocean Edge and the Sierra Club, held a news conference this afternoon to announce they are appealing the Planning Commission’s approval of the environmental review of the project to the supervisors.

“Kids do need places to play, that’s important, but they also need places to experience nature,” said Richard Drury, the environmental attorney representing the groups.

The opponents are seeking what they call a “hybrid alternative” to the plan that would include renovating the current fields with grass and no lighting while replacing the playing fields at the nearby West Sunset Playground with synthetic turf and lighting.

“This alternative is a way to provide play time for kids and protect the priceless jewel of Golden Gate Park,” said Katherine Howard, a leader of the group SF Ocean Edge.

However, the city has repeatedly refused to consider the alternative, Drury said.

Supporters of the current proposal to install synthetic turf and lighting at the Beach Chalet fields say that the changes would triple the amount of play time at the facility.

One of the four fields there currently is always out of use to allow for grass re-growth and the fields are closed every Monday for other maintenance.

The proponents, which include the group City Fields Foundation, also argue that the synthetic turf would reduce injuries since the fields are often pockmarked with gopher holes and other safety hazards.

Construction on the new fields is tentatively considered to begin in the summer or fall of 2013 and will last about 10 months, according to city officials.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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