The new representatives of the Miami Dolphins Sod Farm met with the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council on Tuesday, July 20 to resolve any issues that might have arisen prior to new management, particularly the number of trucks entering and leaving the farm and the recent purchase of more property adjacent to the 80 acres owned by the Dolphins.
Public Works Director Larry Peters introduced Tom Wilson, head groundskeeper at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
“They are coming before you to show that we are moving in a positive direction,” Peters said.
Wilson said they are making some adjustments with the way things are being run at the farm, located north of North Road between B and C roads, and straightening out some of the issues that have come between them and the town.
He stressed that the whole use of the farm is to provide sod for the stadium. “This was built for Hard Rock Stadium, not to go anywhere else outside the state,” Wilson said. “The type of sod that’s being grown is really just for me.”
He explained that the sod is grown in a manner that they can replace the sod in the stadium overnight and play another game the next day.
“When we have the University of Miami play a game on Saturday and the Dolphins on Sunday, my crew and myself, we take out the center logo, take out the sod and replace it with the new sod. We put this grass in and play a game the next afternoon,” Wilson said. “That’s the reason this farm is here. It is not for anything else other than to provide grass for me.”
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia said she was disappointed that the farm had clear-cut 80 acres with many trees and a wetland area, but her biggest issue has been the number of trucks entering and leaving the site.
“But I’m glad to hear that you’re not supplying the world, because that is originally what we were told. We even got a map of all the different clubs that got the sod,” she said.
Councilwoman Marge Herzog asked about an additional 16 acres that had been purchased by the Dolphins organization, and Town Manager Jamie Titcomb said that owners and managers had been talking to him about future plans.
“On behalf of the Dolphins and the town, we’ve had some meetings with these gentlemen, as well as their senior vice president,” Titcomb said. “We’ve sat down and gone through all the technical issues from the history of the development of the site, and they’ve been very cooperative and responsive in terms of mapping out what’s been done, what needs to be done and where we go with it.”
Titcomb added that there has been a big drop-off in the projected volume of truck traffic to and from the site, based on the older business model.
“That was about 950 trips based on the old business model, so it will be significantly less,” he said.
Vice Mayor Laura Danowski asked Wilson why the Dolphins chose Loxahatchee Groves as the location for its operation.
Wilson explained that he was not part of the discussion as to why the Dolphins had chosen Loxahatchee Groves for the sod farm.
“To be honest, I questioned it because I couldn’t imagine why a truck would be coming down some of the roads here,” he said, adding that the location is closer than his current location near Tifton, Georgia. “Trucking is over a million dollars a year, so we wanted essentially to have something closer.”
Wilson noted that the site’s natural soil is not used for the sod process.
“The soil that is here isn’t even being used,” he said. “There is a physical barrier being laid down. Then the grass is laid down on top of the plastic, and then it’s grown. The sand that is put in there is to match what’s in the stadium.”
Danowski also asked about the drainage system on the site, and Wilson said it uses the two ponds to water the grass.
“It’s essentially recycled,” Wilson said. “The only way it would escape is in the event of excessive rain.”
He added that the organization had conferred with the South Florida Water Management District to approve with the way water is being contained there.
Mayor Robert Shorr thanked Wilson and the Dolphins staff for their presentation.
“All the dead palmettos are removed, so it looks a lot better out there,” Shorr said.