Why not spend $2.5M on improved grass field?

To the Editor:

I recently attended the home game for UAlbany as they played on their synturf field. I saw firsthand the small plastic “dust” arise as the ball or players hit and skidded across the turf, possibly breathing in the microplastic dust with a face plant.

Replacement of the grass football field at Guilderland High School with the plastic synturf is included in the current capital improvement project; $2.5 million is allocated for the removal of the grass and replacement with the plastic grass-like turf with tire crumb fill.

As documented by the industry, turf fields need to be replaced in eight to 12 years. My questions are: Is the removal and the discarding cost included within the bond proposal and where will the tons of plastic go as this plastic cannot be recycled?

Research has shown many negative features to synturf. Can we put the students’ health at the top of the list?

Global Sport Matters and other sources document several health issues: rubber crumbs used as the infill to keep the grass upright can cling to the player’s skin, hair, and clothing; dangers from inhalation of PFAS microplastic chemicals; increased foot, knee, ankle injuries as stated in a NFL 2019 study.

From the above article, 82 percent of NFL players feel that artificial turf contributes to more injuries and soreness, thus shortening their careers. Synturf radiates more heat, documented to 140 degrees vs. grass topping out at 85 degrees.

Sports teams as well as the physical-education classes will be using the field, thus exposing students to many negative health risks over their four years at Guilderland High School.

What are the possibilities of using the $2.5 million to install proper drainage under a newly installed grass field such as used with golf courses? Design could include irrigation for periods of less rain as well as designs for proper drainage.

Have those costs or ideas received consideration? An improved grass playing field would reduce the health and safety issues for students, as well as the larger environmental issues of plastic disposal, runoff of infill particles, added heat retaining surface, cost of replacement that appears to be sooner than the bond payment period of 15 years.

Does that mean paying interest on a field that has reached its expiration date? Let’s see this synturf bond proposal become a separate voting item and continue on with passing the remaining capital-improvement projects.  

Carol Rothenberg


Editor’s note: Carol Rothenberg is part of the Plastics-Free Future group that formed locally, inspired by a Bennington College course taught by Judith Enck. See related editorial on page 2.

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