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BOE discusses turf project

The Board of Education held a special meeting Aug. 20 to discuss the potential implementation of a new synthetic turf field at Plainville High School. The idea was favored by most residents who spoke before the BOE.

Superintendent Jeffrey Kitching said in a phone interview that this was the first time the board had a chance to discuss a $950,000 grant from the State Department of Economic and Community Development. The grant was just recently “made available after the Bonding Commission approved it in the last week of July. The money was appropriated during summer vacation, when the board does not meet,” he explained.

Tom Warnat, chairman of the Plainville Parks and Recreation Commission, said “The kids have a real opportunity to play on this turf field, and I think it would be a real bad mistake to give up this $950,000. I know everybody says, ‘it’s taxes, it’s taxes;’ well, guess what, somebody’s going to get that (money). It’s nice when the taxes we pay are going to come back to Plainville.”

Warnat said the recreation commission is “always looking for fields, gyms … keeping kids involved is so important in today’s world … to get them out on the field and give them a chance to play is really something we need to do.”

BOE member Foster White called this “an amazing one-time opportunity to bring Plainville’s athletics into the 21st century,

Kitching told those in attendance at the special meeting that PHS would receive a new “third generation turf” field composed of six to eight inches of “sand material and rubber filler” which “involves an extensive drainage process.”

Kitching said that over the long term the town would save money by switching to third generation turf.

“It costs $25,500 a year for maintenance with natural grass, and in 1999-2000 there was a $1.5 million expense for long term projects in drainage and irrigation. It is impossible to maintain the current quality, and there is also the possibility of a pesticides ban,” he said.

According to the superintendent, with a synthetic turf field, there would be very little maintenance required, and the field would need to be resurfaced after 10 to 12 years. It would be protected by a warranty.

Kitching said that resurfacing and any other upkeep of the synthetic turf field could be paid for by starting a fund that would be built up by having groups that use the field contribute financially.

“This is a facility that would be opened up to maximum use by many groups at all ages,” he said. “Cooperation and collaboration would be established between PHS athletics and all community/youth organizations…the fund would be a savings that is gathered from regular fees for groups that use the field, and in 10 to 12 years we could have enough set aside to replace it if necessary.”

While information from Kitching indicated the overall cost for a third generation turf field would be cheaper than grass, the safety of turf fields is a consideration.

“Over the course of the 30-year history of synthetic turf,” Kitching said, “there have been a number of concerns regarding toxicity and air quality, bacteria. Most of this is addressed with the new technology. We are into generation three turf, about to cross into generation four. Almost all of these issues have been addressed.”

Kitching said synthetic turf “mimics grass as much as possible, but unlike natural grass can be adjusted to optimize safety.”



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