HUNTINGDON SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Board Approves $800K Synthetic Turf Field
BY ERNIE SMOTHERS
HUNTINGDON (March 16) — At the recommendation of Huntingd on Spe cial School District (HSSD) Director of Schools Pat Dillahunty and motion by Dr. Tim Tucker, board members approved initiation of community fundraising efforts to purchase an $800,000 synthetic turf field for Paul Ward Stadium.
Addressing board members prior to the vote, Dillahunty said, “For many years, the idea of installing a synthetic turf surface at Paul Ward Field has been discussed by folks in town. I have weighed all the pros and cons, and I feel that it is the right time for the board to consider this project. I want to stress on the front end that, should the board choose to pursue this project; no education dollars for our school will be
Photo by Ernie Smothers/ The Banner Turf
used to fund the new synthetic turf for the football field. All money raised for this project will be generated via community fundraising and donations.”
She added, “I have asked Mr. Tim Cowan, Chief Executive Officer of Athletic Surface Plus (ASP), to speak with the board about the synthetic turf project. A leader in synthetic turf installation, Athletic Surface Plus recently rehabilitated the football field at Bethel University.”
Thanking Dillahunty, Cowan began, “Athletic Surface Plus has thus far installed 105 synthetic turf surfaces at universities and high schools in Arkansas, Mississippi and throughout West Tennessee. One of our recent clients was Bethel University. Wildcat Athletic Director and Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley, assistant athletic director Brad Chappell, and Bethel President Walter Butler were great to work with.”
Cowan estimated the cost of Paul Ward Stadium’s synthetic turf stadium field at $670,000 with added four-lane track surface at $80,000. One layer of two-inch asphalt is $25,000, and a second layer of asphalt may be required.
He said, “All design, engineering and project management fees for the project are included in the price estimate. Warranties for the synthetic turf surface are eight years. Should the surface fail, it will be replaced at no cost to the school.”
He added, “Additional cost to the project could involve the potential removal of rotting tree stumps beneath the field surface during excavation. No one knows what type of backfill exists beneath the field, so we will have to deal with stumps or other issues if they present themselves.”
Cowan said, “If the board opts to approve the project, the new synthetic turf field will be completed by the start of the 2017-18 school year and ready for the Mustangs’ season- opening, August 18 football game against county rival the McKenzie Rebels. We will make it happen.”
He said, “Athletic Surfaces Plus is a leading consultant and project development partner for high schools, colleges, universities, elementary and middle schools, hospitals, municipalities, parks and recreation, churches, and private enterprises in the area of sports related surfaces, and projects. Our partnership approach offers assistance in a multitude of ways, including case and feasibility studies, project vision, planning and design, fundraising, specification development, selection and negotiation of suppliers, general construction, product installation, warranty negotiation, and service. We have worked with numerous different suppliers, and have provided our clients with the very best product to accomplish their goals.”
He added, “We have built our reputation by taking a personal interest in our clients and their desire for a first-class project. By putting ourselves in your shoes, we truly care about the details and the finer points that make for a complete project. Our quality control measures are second to none, and we pride ourselves in usually eliminating change orders.”
At board member’s request, Cowan provided specific information relative to surface playability, product construction, safety and warranty.
He said, “Synthetic turf playability is very important to towns with thriving sports programs. Our turf is available to use 24 hours per day, seven days per year, and 365 days a year. Teams can practice and play on synthetic turf even when it’s raining. No more having to “protect the field” from the elements. Fields can drain as much as twenty inches of rain per hour, allowing for uninterrupted usage. Overall field usage may be increased three to four times. The playing surface does not degrade via excessive usage. It degrades eventually via exposure to UV light from the sun.”
Cowan said that red color fades faster than most colors applied to fields.
He noted, however, that one synthetic field utilizing red color the company installed eight years prior had yet to fade noticeably.
He added, “Synthetic turf fields can be utilized for physical education classes, band practice, band competitions, football, soccer, football jamborees, baseball and softball in the winter, concerts, graduations, summer camps, clinics, seven on seven football tournaments, community events.”
He said, “For people in the community that like to exercise before or after work, the running track will provide them with a safe place to walk, day or night. That is definitely an added bonus for your town.”
Cowan said that today’s redesigned synthetic turf surfaces are vastly safer than the hard, “astro turf ” surfaces of the past and offer far-greater cushioning than previous synthetic fields. According to the company’s website, extensive studies performed by the NCAA, Consumer Products Safety Commission and Penn State, new synthetic turf fields were projected to be three to 21-percent safer on athletes than natural grass fields depending on the type of injury. There is no lead, polyethylene in new style synthetic turf fields. Synthetic fields are no more liable to contract Staff infection than natural grass fields. Better safety and fewer injuries add up to a great outcome.
In regard to environmental impact, synthetic turf fields never need watering, thus saving one million gallons of water on an annual basis.
He said, “Most schools may not be aware of this, but they pay $30,000 per year or more to maintain grass fields. Water consumption, mowing, fertilizing, chemicals, painting, aerifying and topdressing cost add up.”
He emphasized, “Our synthetic field is composed of two-inch legacy turf, 100-percent all-rubber infill, one-quarter inch of fine aggregate 89 stone, tack nail, three-ply, 26-ounce urethane backing, two by four-inch composite decking material, nailer strip ripped trex deck, three-quarter inch 57 base aggregate stone, geotextile liner, (optional) flat drain and compacted subgrade. The subgrade materials lock together. You can use them for a hundred years and just replace the surface materials.”
Board member Justin Culbreath asked Cowan, “What happens if problems arise with our playing surface? Have you had to deal with surface failures and replacement? Who absorbs the cost if the playing surface or subsurface fails?” He replied, “Those are excellent questions, and I am glad to answer them. Yes, we have had to deal with surface failures. Last summer, Bethel hired us to rehabilitate Wildcat Stadium’s synthetic turf field. When we started the project, we immediately realized that the company that installed the first synthetic turf field at Bethel had produced engineering flaws on and beneath the playing surface, causing Bethel’s ten-year-old synthetic turf playing surface to fail. The combination of improper subgrade sloping and poor irrigation installation resulted in the field’s retaining water on the home sidelines and the “riding up” of synthetic turf surface. We corrected the problems, replaced the old synthetic turf with new, improved synthetic turf, and transformed Bethel’s multipurpose sports field to optimal condition.”
He added, “We monitor all of our playing surfaces installations upon completion for signs of failure. A few years ago, we discovered that one of our high school synthetic fields was failing only four years after it was installed. Most people would have walked out on that surface and not known that a problem existed with that field. We know, however, because we have the tools and experience needed to examine the surfaces meticulously. Once we identified the problem, we immediately contacted the school to make them aware of the situation and monitored the playing surface for one year before replacing it at no cost to the school.”
Culbreath asked, “Was the playing surface still safe for athletes to play on the year prior to your company’s replacing it?” Cowan replied, “Yes, the playing surface was safe. Safety is always our main concern, and the problem with that particular field was cosmetic only. We are diligent in terms of safety and very picky when it comes to the products we use. Many times, we have inspected materials, rejected them, and had them shipped back to the manufacturer before they were removed from the trucks. ”
In other business, the board approved the $59,715 low bid of Blankenship Heating and Cooling of Huntingdon to replace four, 20-ton HVAC units at the high school gym.
2017-18 School lunch prices were increased as follows: (Primary and Middle School)-student-breakfast-$1.25 from $1.00; lunch-$1.90 from $1.75; Adult (faculty)-breakfast-$1.35 from $1.10; lunch-$3.25 from $2.60; visitor-breakfast-$1.50 from $1.35; lunch-$4.00 from $3.60.
(High School)-student-breakfast-$1.25 from $1.00; lunch-$2.40 from $2.25; Adult (faculty)-breakfast-$1.35 from $1.10; lunch-$3.25 from $2.60; visitor-breakfast-$1.50 from $1.35; lunch-$4.00 from $ 3.60.
Photo by Ernie Smothers/The Banner