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Mon, June 24

Public and machines help keep ballfield grass clean

Parks and Rec Director Brian Witty runs the Greens Groomer around the artifical turf fields at Mountain Valley Park, where the equipment gathered more than a hundred cigarette butts left behind by attendees at the fireworks show. Tobacco products are not allowed on the field.<br>
TribPhoto/Sue Tone

Parks and Rec Director Brian Witty runs the Greens Groomer around the artifical turf fields at Mountain Valley Park, where the equipment gathered more than a hundred cigarette butts left behind by attendees at the fireworks show. Tobacco products are not allowed on the field.<br> TribPhoto/Sue Tone

Like a combination riding mower and vacuum cleaner, the Greens Groomer machine sweeps across the Mountain Valley ball field collecting all sorts of foreign matter from the depths of its artificial roots.

Brian Witty, director of Prescott Valley Parks and Recreation, drove the new equipment on a recent early morning, and explained how it works.

"It has stiff bristle brushes that work from all angles and help lift any foreign matter," he said of the LitterKat attachment at the back of the Groomer. "It also helps redistribute the crumb rubber infill to even it out."

Witty said workers run the machine in different patterns on the field, mixing up the direction as if it were a real grass field.

Before attaching the LitterKat to the back of the riding machine, however, Witty hooked up a heavy magnetized bar and ran it over the field, collecting bobby pins, two broken necklace chains, an air valve, and bits of metal.

Parks and Rec workers will clean the field at least once a month, sometimes twice, depending on the level of use, and also on Mother Nature. Windy weather blows in trash and leaves that collect on the field.

"There is a fair amount of maintenance. You have to take care of it," Witty said. "The greater care comes from the public. If you use it right, it will always be there."

Other than a hundred or so cigarettes left behind after the Fourth of July fireworks show, "folks have done well," Witty said.

Tobacco products are not allowed on the field, nor food or drinks other than water.

Sugar from spilled soda, sports drinks and candy are particularly harmful, as it destroys the permeability of the surface material, he said. Sugar causes the rubber crumbs to stick together, forming a mass that decreases the resiliency factor.

"Soda also has acid - it eats things up and stains the fiber," Witty said.

Sunflower seed hulls are horrible to clean up, and they clog the machines, he added.

The recent monsoon rains, however, flow through the turf. It can handle 14 inches of rain per hour, Witty said. Natural grass fields don't fare as well with use during wet weather.

"We had a group of professional soccer players here and they said the field was fantastic," Witty said.

The artificial turf package deal included all maintenance equipment.

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