Potential Synthetic Turf at Deerpath Community Park

Potential Synthetic Turf at Deerpath Community Park

Lainey O’Neil, Staff Writer

There recently has been a ton of buzz around Lake Forest and Lake Bluff regarding the possibility of new synthetic turf fields being built under the lights behind Deer Path Middle School. 

“Deerpath Community Park,” as this patch of land is officially known, is approximately 10 acres and is thought to be a potential location to expand outdoor amenities within the city of Lake Forest. This is being widely debated throughout the community, with many people supportive of this idea, while others are opposed. 

The idea originated in the Lake Forest City Council’s 2019 Master Plan as a way to improve the athletic fields in the community. 

The Council discovered that artificial turf fields offer superior drainage, particularly when multiple Lake Forest playing fields have had a history of poor drainage that has made the fields unusable. 

In 2020, the city, along with “The Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation,” conducted an athletic field assessment to evaluate all the city-owned athletic fields, and to recommend improvements. 

This study produced a general consensus that the city’s athletic fields need to be improved, and the idea of synthetic turf at Deer Path was born. Other locations were considered, as well, such as Townline and Northcroft Park, but because of its size, central and accessible location, and existing sports lights, Deerpath was perceived as the best option. 

Many residents, parents, and young athletes are supportive of the possibility of synthetic turf, because they believe it will make the fields playable during all weather conditions. It also presents the possibility to extend playing seasons, develop better athletes, and make our local teams and sports clubs healthier and more competitive. 

Residents also believe it’s well past time to have quality turf fields in Lake Forest, as a number of neighboring communities have had such fields for years. 

Our town, they argue, is at a strong disadvantage compared to others, and installing new turf fields will add another incentive to choose Lake Forest when families are considering where to live in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

The petition for turf at Deerpath received support from 884 people.

The city is currently investigating other alternatives as well because there are those in our community who are concerned that synthetic turf fields may not be the healthiest option for athletes or the environment. 

Go Real Go Grass is a local group of athletes, parents, and residents of Lake Forest who support natural grass fields at Deerpath Community Park. 

This group’s focus is to preserve the natural environment and beauty of Lake Forest by maintaining natural grass fields for the community to enjoy. Additionally, they argue artificial turf may lead to more injuries and, due to some potentially hazardous materials in artificial turf, may even pose long-term health risks, including an increased risk of cancer. 

There are some local athletes who believe the turf development idea should be discontinued. 

The city is using its “Master Plan” and Athletic Field Assessment to solicit feedback from community members.  

Additionally, the city is hosting community workshops to give residents the opportunity to share input and opinions. The next workshop is scheduled for Jan. 19, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Deer Path Middle School. Registration is required to attend the workshop in person, and face coverings are required.  

Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. Whether you’re in favor of synthetic turf or a fan of keeping natural grass, here’s your chance to make your thoughts known. The City will decide on the final design option this March.