River's Edge Sports Complex to undergo turf field makeover

By Erin Brookshier - Virginia Today Reporter

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Changes are coming to one of the biggest parks in the Star City. River's Edge Sports Complex is getting an upgrade; two of the playing fields on Reserve Avenue will soon be replaced with synthetic turf.

It's a plan that began back in 2007 and is now in the beginning stages of development as part of this year's capitol improvement plan. The Parks and Recreation Departments says several of the fields were built on top of the old Victory Stadium parking lot-- so just a few inches down, there's pavement. That makes it hard to keep grass growing in the fields.

While replacing the current fields with synthetic turf fields will be more costly upfront-- it could help save Roanoke money in the long run with maintenance and upkeep. Turf fields will also handle the wear and tear of daily use better, as the playability is 4-to-1 over a regular grass field. That means more athletes in the Roanoke Valley will have the opportunity to play in the park.

"We are very much a soccer community," says Michael Clark, the Parks and Recreation Manager. "But we're also a rugby community, a football community and a lacrosse community. All of which are anxious to use the same field. This will help with a lot of the wear and tear we're experiencing on the southside of the field and also help to grow some of those newer sports like lacrosse and rugby."

As far as cost goes, there is currently $2.5 million allocated for general park projects and the development at River's Edge is the only project scheduled at this point.

The initial phase of the project will not only bring turf to the fields, but also new lights at the park and an upgrade for the old gravel parking lot-- making it ADA accessible.

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