City says synthetic turf is solution to wild-growing grass problem

Local News

Weeks of wet weather may have left Oahu a greener place, but it’s causing headaches for city crews trying to keep up with the out-of-control growth.

But now the city thinks it may have a solution, but some in the public are not too happy about it.

In September, we told you about problems in Waikiki where grass had not been cut for weeks. City crews did not have the staff to keep that area mowed and cleaned.

The long grass is not just an issue in Waikiki — in fact, KHON2 found numerous places Sunday where the grass was knee high.

Now, the city is aware of this problem, and that’s why they are looking into using synthetic turf in various locations around Oahu.

“The Dept. of Facility Maintenance is challenged with staffing right now,” said director Ross Sasamura. “We have roughly one third of our positions vacant. We don’t see any immediate resolution to that issue, so for us, we are looking for different methods of maintaining various parts of the infrastructure and certainly taking care of grass.”

But you won’t see the synthetic turf pop up overnight, and it won’t be in every place that has grass. Right now, the city is in the early phases of a pilot project. Their goal is to install turf in nine locations around Oahu — Makakilo, Wahiawa, Kailua, Kaimuki, Makiki, Kalihi, Salt Lake, Pearl City and Mililani — and the turf would only be put in medians, roundabouts and bulb-outs.

When asked if this does work, will we see more of it around the city in the future, Sasamura said “you can certainly count on that. So we are hoping that this pilot program will give us information that will be useful to sighting other locations.”

Some residents we spoke to, on the other hand, had other thoughts. “Personally, my opinion is it should be grass,” said Kailua resident Thomas Borges. “Why go with Astroturf when you have people that manicure the grass? I mean, that’s jobs, and Astroturf will get rid of them.”

Sasamura said, however, that turf makes the most sense for certain areas. “I also think there maybe other situations where a natural turf will be better in the long run and that is the reason why we are going through the pilot program.”

He added that the synthetic turf would save money because there is almost no maintenance needed, and would reduce the amount of runoff during rain.

The city is in the process of asking for bids on the project.

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