To the Editor:
An examination of the Irvington bond referendum set for October 7th yields some troubling problems. Among other things, the bond proposes to spend $1.85 million on a new and inadequately tested form of artificial grass called “GeoTurf.” Since the bond also includes the installation of natural grass on East Field, it’s hard not to wonder why real grass is good for one place and not another.
The District never gives a good answer. To justify the plastic carpet on Meszaros field, the IUFSD website tells us, implausibly, that the field is used daily by 60 cross-country runners.
As the father of two CC participants, I could not but shake my head: cross-country runners don’t race up and down a football field; they trek through the woods.
In another weak justification for buying the polypropylene turf, the school website places the entire PE burden on Meszaros. Somehow, not a single gym class will ever set foot on the East Field. Even more problematic is the District’s claim that our existing natural grass field has not stood up to everyday wear and tear. But ever since school officials first propounded artificial turf, Meszaros’s upkeep has been sadly neglected. A competent turf manager would have been overseeding, aerating, and re-sodding, none of which we have done regularly.
Interestingly, the District’s website recommends outsourcing the upkeep of the proposed real grass East Field, tacitly admitting its incompetent maintenance of Meszaros. Instead of installing plastic carpet on one of the fields, why not just outsource the upkeep of two grass fields? Why invite the complexity of a new maintenance regimen for an artificial surface, especially since the upkeep of Geo-Turf is immensely complicated?
The Geo-Turf company recommends daily inspection of the surface, a weekly maintenance routine, and the addition of 4-5 tons of infill material annually. Heavily played areas must be topped up and raked regularly and the field soaked during dry weather. Otherwise, the infill will not perform properly and surface temperatures will rise dramatically.
All this maintenance requires specialized training and equipment. If our maintenance people fail to acquire the training or apply it poorly, Geo-Turf makes clear that it will void its 8-year warranty. Given our poor track record on Meszaros’s natural grass, I question our ability to fulfill Geo-Turf’s complex requirements. If our maintenance fails, so will the field. Then what?
Let the Board rethink this and propose 2 real grass fields instead. I’m voting NO on October 7th.