Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 10/28/2015  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon a presentation on all-weather turf (agenda item requested by Director Bass);
FISCAL IMPACT:
No funding has been allocated for the removal/replacement of all-weather turf in-fill material in the 2015 or 2016 Capital Improvement Budgets;
BACKGROUND:
In October 2014, NBC broadcast a TV segment entitled “How Safe is the Artificial Turf Your Child Pays On”.  The story inferred female soccer goal keepers are being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a result of the contact with the turf, especially the crumb rubber material used as part of the in-fill mixture. A soccer coach in the Washington State area had, through her own research, identified 38 American soccer players who have non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 34 of them are goalies. The story attempted to establish a link between playing on the artificial fields and the sickness of these athletes.  

On October 16, 2014 the Board of Directors received a presentation from DMA Sports Group on the Gosling Sports Fields all-weather turf project and its infill material. The Board requested that DMA provided a review of the news story and studies regarding the issue and present those findings to the Board at the November 19th meeting. .

DMA then reported there is limited evidence to support the findings reported in the news and that the current sand and rubber infill mixture at Alden Bridge Sports Park and Bear Branch Sportfields are safe. They referenced the Synthetic Turf Council’s web page which contains independent research on environmental concerns, which has identified crumb rubber as a safe material - (www.syntheticturfcouncil.org).  A Karmanos Hematology expert states research doesn't back up claims linking artificial turf to cancer.

After reviewing the information and several infill options vetted by DMA Sports Groups during the bidding process of the Gosling Sport field project, the Board of Directors approved constructing three (3) all weather turf fields sport fields using a crumb rubber and sand infill mix.  Those fields have been completed and could be open for play shortly after the first of the year.
 
A follow up story on the issue was broadcast by NBC earlier this month.  The story reported the  number of self reported instances of on-Hodgkin lymphoma has risen to 63.  While the story indicates the studies are still inconclusive,  staff contacted  DMA Sports Group  who is serving as consultant for the all weather turf project regarding the follow up broadcast and to provide cost estimates for options of alternate infill mixtures.  DMA provided a report that outlines the positives and challenges with alternate materials and the costs to remove and replace these materials (Attachment A).  The Township has nine all weather turf fields in the community that totals 814,600 square feet.  In addition, the Village Green Park has all-weather turf but is a sand only infill mix.

Using the per square foot cost estimates provided by DMA, the follow table indicates the potential total cost for the various options:
 
Option Cost Extraction Total Total
Microbes/Isolite $.95 per sf .50 per sf $1.45 per sf $1,181,170
Zeolite and Ground Walnut Shell $1 per sf .50 per sf $1.50 per sf $1,221,900
Silica sand and EPDM rubber $3.25 per sf .50 per sf $3.75 per sf $3,054,750
Thermal plastic elastomer. $3.25 .50 per sf $3.75 per sf $3,054,750
Coconut husk and sand mixture $1.70 per sf .50 per sf $2.20 per sf $1,792,120
CoolFill, EnvirFill and EcoFill $1.75 to $2.50 per sf .50 per sf $2.25 to $3.00 per sf $1,832,850-$2,443,800
 
At the conclusion of DMA’s report it indicated there are no profound studies that have proven SBR Rubber (car tires) to have any health issues. Furthermore, while staff has been monitoring this issue this past year, there has been limited issues brought to staff's attention from the public about this issue. 

It should also be noted that the crumb rubber material is also a popular alternative for playground safety surfacing. While The Township does not have crumb rubber in its playgrounds there are a handful of playgrounds (Wendtwoods, Spincaster, Bear Branch) with poured in place rubber surface which is based on the same material as crumb rubber.   At this time it is believed the infill product currently specified is a safe material. In addition, there are no known causes of sickness that can be attributed to the fields locally, however this topic and any new research should continue to be monitored. 

Recommended routine maintenance of all-weather turf fields includes the periodic renovation and/or replacement of the infill material.  This is typically warranted at approximately 7 to 10  year intervals.   Therefore, there may be the opportunity to consider alternate infill materials in the future and there may be better scientific research completed on the issue.

 
RECOMMENDATION:
Board to determine course of action.
Attachments
Attachment A - DMA Report and Cost Estimates for Alternate Infill Materials


    

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