School hopes to replace turf field this summer

Drake+High+School+Turf+Field-December+2016

Kylie Jones

Drake High School Turf Field-December 2016

Patrick Brown

Schools and communities across our nation debate whether or not to have artificial turf or natural grass fields. The school has changed most of its fields to turf since turf gained popularity. They are easier to maintain and able to be used year-round. However, artificial fields also pose economic and health issues.

Every 10 years an artificial field is supposed to be replaced. The football field was scheduled to be replaced last summer. After shock-resistant tests were taken to make sure the field could still be safely used, the school decided to postpone the decision.

Artificial turf resulted from tire companies desire to get rid of used tires. The solution was to recycle the rubber for artificial fields.

Many people are skeptical of redoing the field with crumb rubber from tires. Physical education teacher Mary Boston is one of the staff members who has concerns over the turf’s toxicity.

“Young people are growing rapidly, and all their reproductive organs are highly affected by toxins when they are maturing. We are putting kids in the prime of their pubescent growth period on a toxic field,” Boston said.

As a P.E. teacher, the turf field is necessary to her classes. However, Boston has found a solution to minimize the toxicity of the field by doing most of her outdoor activities in the winter when the turf is less toxic said to be.

Another teacher with concerns about the artificial field is science teacher Barton Clark.
“I believe that natural grass is the solution. We then should compromise and shut down the field at times and not rent it to outside groups,” Clark said.

One issue with having a natural grass field is the availability for the community to use. If the school plans on maintaining the field effectively, they would be forced to close the fields periodically.
“To what degree is it our responsibility to receive all of these club teams. I think the real issue in terms of playable hours is the lack of community fields,” Clark said.

Senior Rick Miles has been active in the decision making process.

“We have neither the resources to maintain a field of high enough quality for it to be any better nor any hope of having a field of any quality. I remain unconvinced that the rubber pellets pose a legitimate concern for athletes,” Miles said.

Currently, Tam’s field has a rubber base with a cork layer sitting on top of it. If our school decides to replace the field with cork, it would have a rubber base encapsulated by cork to be more eco-friendly. This idea is fairly new and our school would be one of few in California to have a cork encapsulated base.

A possible issue that could arise is how to pay for this field. The Tam Fund paid for the new cork baseball field, however, our administration plans for the district to pay for the school’s restored field.

The maintenance department is set to send a recommendation to the Board of Trustees sometime in January. David O’Connor, head of Maintenance and Operations, is leaning towards proposing a cork field. The school anticipates the Board to make a decision in the spring in order for construction to take place throughout the summer.

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