Stafford MSD weigh pros and cons of artificial turf
By Karen Daniels
Residual money is available from the recently completed 2011 $49.9 million bond for SMSD construction and improvements. At this time, $2,192,189 remain in the funds. At the February board meeting, SMSD Trustee Rodney Butler asked that information on artificial turf versus natural grass for the Spartan athletic stadium be presented to the board. Alan Albers from Brooks and Sparks Engineering firm gave that information at the March board meeting.
Made to look like natural grass, artificial turf is a surface of synthetic fibers that requires no irrigation or trimming. The main reason schools are switching to this type of field is to save money on maintenance. Fort Bend, Katy, Houston, Arlington, Kingwood, and Montgomery are a few of the districts in Texas that have made the switch. The cost being considered for this project, which includes a new track surrounding the field, is $1,700,000. The following pros and cons were discussed at the meeting.
The Pros: Playing consistency. Quicker drainage. Fertilization and pesticides not required. Repairs are seldom needed. Pre-striped for multiple sports (in different colors).
The Cons: Heat. In July and August in the middle of the day, temperatures can reach 150 degrees and should not be used. The average lifetime of the turf field is 8 years.
Interesting fact: Artificial turf first gained substantial attention in 1966 when it was used in the newly constructed Astrodome; hence the name “Astroturf.” It’s come a long way since then, there’s even a hybrid some professional stadiums are using, but according to SMSD Athletic Director, Ron Counter, there are “fewer injuries with today’s turf” as compared with natural grass. Prior to her resignation as CFO, Carle Merka, stated that it would take the District five years to see money saved on maintenance after the initial purchase.
Replacement cost for the turf is around $350K. In order for this project to be completed in time for the 2014-15 football season (barring excessive weather conditions), this will need to be voted on and passed by the Board of Trustees in May.
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