The grass may be greener but the fields at the new Ocean Air Park will not be ready for the start of the school year on Aug. 31. Clay Bingham, the deputy director with parks and recreation department, said students at neighboring Ocean Air School won't have to wait too much longer for the fields - he expects them to be ready on Oct. 21. There is no set date yet for the grand opening of the park and recreation center.
"It looks great. but that's just the surface," said Bingham of the grass on the fields. "There hasn't been enough time to establish a strong root structure."
The 17-acre park at the end of East Ocean Air Drive features a 16,000-square-foot recreation center, and the ball fields are meant for joint use with Ocean Air School. The school opened in fall 2007 and since then they only have blacktop space for children to play on.
As many children walk and bike to school at Ocean Air, Bingham said they will allow use of the walking path through the park to the school. They will put up a fence to keep children on the path and off the grass, he said.
Bingham said if they allow people on the grass too soon, it can get distressed and would most likely need repairs by next summer. By waiting, the grass will be more resilient and better looking in the end.
"It's better to do it right up front," Bingham said. "The payoff later will be worth it."