“These park and athletic renovation projects are life changing for communities, and I am very happy to play a part in the work of Project EverGreen.”
Sports Field Solutions LLC
When sports field expert Scott Bills heard what was happening in the city of Red Bank, New Jersey, he knew he needed to lend a hand.
A nationally certified, 35-year veteran in the renovation and construction of athletic fields, Bills currently operates Sports Field Solutions LLC. He does sports field consulting with a client list that includes cities, universities, private schools, and school districts, and serves as an expert witness in hundreds of sports injury cases across the country every year.
It was six years ago that he got wind of a sports field renovation project in the works in Red Bank, one of his clients, which was being spearheaded by Project EverGreen. It was an old soccer field that was in desperate need of a helping hand.
“I knew the facility, and when I dug into the plan, I discovered that the folks from Project EverGreen had not toured the field yet – so I knew that they did not know how bad it was,” recalls Bills. “The town was not coming forth and providing the information that the Project EverGreen folks really needed – for example, I was adamant that the irrigation system be upgraded, and the field graded to protect the sod.”
He reached out to Project EverGreen with his laundry list of concerns, leading Executive Director Cindy Code to ask him to get involved in the effort. It started him down the road as a key volunteer leader for the organization – he current serves as Vice President of the Project EverGreen board and is on track to serve as its President in 2024.
“It’s an exciting time to be in a leadership role with the organization,” he says, “we have an awful lot going on.”
Planning and Preparation Make the Difference
Renovating a sports field properly is much more about planning and preparation than it is about the execution. With Project EverGreen’s sports field endeavors, Bills gets together the scope of work, the budget, and how the work will get done. He also works with city leaders to ensure that the finished product will be properly maintained.
With this information in hand, Code marshals the industry resources. “Cindy does a great job pulling together what we need from companies as far as in-kind services and donations,” says Bills.
The success of the Red Bank project turned out to be a springboard for another sports field renovation in the city of Phoenix in 2018, an idea generated by members of the Sports Field Managers Association (SFMA) where Bills is actively involved.
“Some of our best groundskeepers came up with the idea to renovate a sports field for an area in need that coincides with our annual conference in January,” says Bills.
The Phoenix project involved the complete renovation of a ball field at Lindo Park. A massive effort was launched to coordinate volunteers and gain commitments for all the materials and equipment, and everything was in place leading up to the date of construction.
“Some time in the days leading up to the installation day there’s a picture of me standing on the field by myself, at the time not sure who would show up,” Bills recalls. “It was the first time, after all.”
His expectations were blown away, as two busloads carrying 76 volunteers rolled onto the site. “The next worry is, what am I going to do with all these people?” he laughed. Every vendor came through with donations of equipment and supplies, and the massive crew banged out a $100,000 renovation project in about five hours.
“On the site, I pick captains for the various aspects of the field,” he explains. “I know who the best with pitcher’s mounds is, and who is best with batter’s boxes, everyone has a strength. As a group, we laid all the sod in 30 minutes.”
A Productive Partnership
And that one big idea carried forward. SFMA and Project EverGreen annual sports field renovations have been completed in Savannah, Georgia and West Palm Beach, Florida, coinciding with the SFMA January Conventions. In January 2024 a playing field in Daytona, Florida is scheduled for renovation as the two groups continue their efforts to deliver safer, healthier recreational and athletic spaces.
This fall, Bills is helping Project EverGreen and the City of Detroit to continue its journey of green space revitalization with a rehab of a ball field at Milan Park.
“What happened to a great city like Detroit should never happen to an American city, but things are headed in the right direction and I’m happy to be a part of it,” says Bills. “The city of Detroit has been great to work with, and the entire department of parks has raised its level of commitment. And our commitment has helped keep the doors of private investment open – Rocket Mortgage has invested in these projects, and if we do not put in a full effort there the money could go away.”
Bills finds his involvement gratifying, as he sees renewal in tired areas of large cities, and commitments from cities themselves to not only renovate but maintain precious new neighborhood resources.
“These projects are life changing for communities, and I am very happy to play a part in the work of Project EverGreen,” says Bills.
About GreenCare for Communities
Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Communities initiative revitalizes community green spaces. We’ve restored nearly 200 million square feet of healthy turf since 2008. That’s enough oxygen for 20,000 families of four!
Do you know a sports field or a playground that can become a better place for children to play and explore? Or, how about an urban park or community lawn that can help residents exercise and connect? Project EverGreen unites local businesses, community groups, volunteers and in-kind resources to create modern recreational green spaces.
Greener, healthier, cooler environments turn the tide for communities across the US in five key ways:
- Outdoor Enjoyment
- Healthier Lifestyles
- Economic Growth
- Community Development
- Environmental Benefit