Already broken: new turf field closed for repairs

From, by Zoe Roos

It was not so long ago that new turf field at Guilford (CT) High School (GHS) was the center of heated debate over the potential health hazards of different infill materials. The infill material selected was touted as environmentally friendly and the new field was installed in 2016, but now, after just one season, the field is pulling apart.

In June 2016, after concerns were raised about possible negative health effects of crumb rubber, the Guilford High School Building Committee voted to move forward with an artificial turf field with a coated sand infill, also known as Enviro-fill, to round off the new GHS building project.

The committee voted to move forward and submit a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen (BOS), which was later approved, to contract with RAD Sports to construct a coated sand synthetic turf field for $1,151,100. Before voting, the committee considered suggestions and recommendations from the Standing Fields Committee and the Board of Education and discussed the financial and health implications of the various options.

RAD Sports completed the installation of perimeter piping and the fine grading of the field subgrade as well as the installation of a chain link fence.

In January of this year, Parks & Recreation Director Rick Maynard said some of his crew members were up near the field cleaning out drains and noticed a problem: The carpet was coming apart at the seams.

The field is composed of a shock pad, which reduces impact, and the artificial turf carpet that sits on that pad. The fill sits in the carpet and the carpet comes in several pieces, much like carpet in a home, that are then stitched together to make the field.

“For whatever reason, the shock pad has pulled apart in some areas and the carpet has become unstitched at the seams at those parts,” he said.

Maynard said his crew immediately notified him of the problem and he called the field installer and representatives from the shock pad company and the carpet company to come out, take a look at the problem, and come up with a solution.

“The bottom line is that the three—meaning the shock pad company, the carpet company, and the installer—their directive is to come up with a cause that made this happen and what they are going to do to fix it,” he said.

According to Maynard, the field is under warranty so any costs associated with repairs should not fall to the town or the Board of Education. He said the town has to wait for the three parties to come up with a reason why this happened and a possible solution. In the meantime, the field is closed.

“We have locked the gates and we have signs up there saying the field is closed for repairs,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious we don’t want people to go on it right now.”

Maynard said encountering this sort of problem so early in the life of the field was unexpected and he has made it clear to the three companies that any solution they come up with has to be permanent.

“It’s got to get fixed,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”