Artificial system

The construction committee discusses the artificial turf pitch

The Newport School Building Committee voted Oct. 18 to approve several expenses. The committee unanimously approved a tender for roofing work on the new high school and for an air sampling protocol to monitor any local pollution.

They also approved $4,300 to extend the bus loop at Pell Elementary School, creating enough space for four buses to drop off or pick up students at the same time. Only three can do it now.

A bid to build a 10-foot chain-link fence along the southwest and west edges of the school was approved for $57,400. This would block neighbors’ view of the bus loop.

Mark Rhoades, of SLAM Collaborative and the architect of the high school project, showed a new rendering showing the visual impact of curtain wall glass windows, instead of storefronts, on exterior walls. Curtain glass windows are larger and allow more natural light inside.

The largest expense, approximately $210,000, is to fund the full design of an artificial turf pitch at the new Rogers High.

With a final plan in hand, the committee can answer questions about the cost of an artificial turf pitch compared to natural turf, what additional use it might sustain, and any safety concerns regarding turf pitches. artificial and grass.

In addition, the committee would have a firm figure in hand to address funding concerns.

Currently, the budget for the new high school includes $2.7 million for a natural grass pitch. Joe DeSanti, the city’s lead consultant on its two school construction projects, estimates an artificial turf field would cost up to $3.2 million more, money not available in the current budget.

The vote came after a presentation by Arthur Eddy of Traverse Landscape Architects, a contractor who installs artificial turf pitches. His speech focused on safety concerns sparked by decades-long discontent among professional athletes, who believe artificial turf pitches cause more injuries. He also mentioned the use of recycled tire rubber in artificial turf fields and a possible link to cancer.

“The biggest value is the extra hours of use,” he said, saying one artificial turf pitch is worth three grass pitches because teams can both train and play on it.

Natural grass fields only have a few hours before tearing apart, he said, requiring maintenance and time to heal. Additionally, he said artificial turf pitches drain faster, another way to make them more “playable”.

However, Eddy said the industry is on the fifth generation of design, which incorporates many other safety features, especially padding and cited studies concluding that there are no more injuries on the courts. of contemporary artificial turf than on natural turf, and that no studies have linked these surfaces to cancer.

Modern artificial turf has less grip than previous iterations, he said, reducing knee and ankle injuries resulting when an athlete plants a foot in the grass.

“I feel [an artificial grass] ground would be safer than a [natural grass] on the ground,” said Scott Wheeler, member of the school building committee and superintendent of parks, grounds and forests.

He said many studies of the two grounds’ safety records involve professional sports teams, whose grounds are lavishly and expensively maintained. A natural grass pitch at the new Rogers High would quickly be trampled and lose any safety advantage, he said.

Additionally, while an artificial turf pitch would cost more upfront, maintenance costs would be considerably lower. Wheeler said the cost per hour of use, given the much greater use an artificial turf pitch allows, could be about even.

City manager Joe Nicholson, also a member of the school construction committee, cited recent examples of communities in Massachusetts removing artificial turf fields over fears of possible PFA or chemicals forever.

He also said there was currently no money to fund the more expensive artificial turf pitch, so the discussion was speculative. However, others said there might be ways to find funding, possibly through private donors.