2017-05-25 / Front Page

Turf decision splits G-L schools

Editor's note: This story was the first of two about Monday's meeting. The other, "School Board provided stacks of information on synthetic turf," appeared on page 16.

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

It’s the fourth quarter for a decision over whether to spend from about $735,000 to $880,000 to install artificial turf on the Glen Lake football field.

Opposite sides have marched out Facebook posts to further their views. The Board of Education this week put off a decision on the project, which has been years in the planning.

A decision is expected at the School Board meetings set for Monday, June 12.

“The conventional wisdom is that there’s less maintenance with grass,” School Board President Fran Seymour said. “Our facilities staff does so much. But there’s no code to identify how much time they spend on snowplowing versus grass mowing.”

The estimated annual maintenance for a synthetic field is $8,000; maintenance costs for grass range from $10,000 to $18,000.

The board met in special session Monday night to hear from its consultant and take in public input on three plans for the Laker football field.

Also under consideration is reconstruction of the field using sod or seed, and patching the existing field to get through the 2017 season.

Only two options would allow the Lakers to play on the field this fall — patching the field, which is considered a “Band-Aid” approach, and installation of a turf surface.

Reconstruction using either sod or seed would prevent the team from using the field in the fall.

Scott Jozwiak of Jozwiak Consulting was hired by the District to redesign the Laker athletic complex, with that work already completed. More recently he was hired to look at the synthetic turf proposal, which was listed on the District’s longterm plan for projects adopted two years ago.

Jozwiak has recommended installing synthetic turf.

Three firms submitted synthetic turf proposals: AstroTurf, a Georgia-based company with a representative in southern Michigan submitted a proposal; A-Turf of New York; and Field Turf of Montreal.

AstroTurf’s base bid of $839,488 was right in the middle of the others submitted for the project. The lowest bid — for $734,576 — was from Field Turf. A-Turf submitted the highest bid of $878,910.

All three companies provided a 10-year warranty. However, AstroTurf’s gMax rating, used to measure the “softness” of the surface, was better than the other companies.

“The lower the gMax, the less likely the there will be (head) impact,” Jozniak said. “The maximum gMax recommended for high school turf is 170.”

AstroTurf’s bid gives it an initial gMax rating of 100 with a maximum of 160 over the life of the surface.

Bids for the other companies include a gMax rating of 130 initially and 170 over the life of the field.

The field could also be lined for soccer and lacrosse and allow spring teams to begin outdoor practices earlier than they do now.

Also providing information for board members Monday was Tom Reed of Tri-Turf, a Traverse City-based company that has worked with the district and its groundskeepers since the 1970s.

Reed walked the football field prior to Monday’s meeting.

“Wow, you’ve done so much to enhance your athletic facilities,” he said. “You could designate one person to do just turf management.”

Reed went on to walk the board through natural grass options.

The district could patch holes in the current field, but that would do little to impact the facility longterm.

Reed said that the field needs to be “re-crowned” to improve drainage and prevent wet spots that lead to increased wear and tear.

The cost of reconstruction is estimated at about $400,000 whether through seed or sod.

But the field likely would not be ready for fall football.

The conversation Monday also covered field use. The current field hosts Pop Warner, middle school, junior varsity and varsity football games.

However, much of the football team’s practice time is spent on the baseball and softball field to reduce wear on the main field.

Glen Lake physical education teachers also access the field for classes.

“Our outdoor recreation teacher Judy Willey estimates she’s on the field with students 150 days of the 180-day school year,” athletic director Jen Johnston.

The field is also used by the middle school and elementary physical education classes.

“It’s not just for the football team,” Seymour said. “It’s multiple teams and PE classes.”

Board members noted that unlike many public schools, Glen Lake has all grades — K-12 — under one roof, in one location.

Districts with separate facilities — elementary, middle and high schools — would not use one field as often.

The school renovated its athletic complex less than a year ago. Improvements included creation of designated parking, fencing, construction of an access road to the soccer field and a new “practice” field that will be used by the football team.

However, the new field built adjacent the current football facility must “cure” for one year before being used.

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Too bad you forgot to mention

Too bad you forgot to mention the heavy metals...zinc, lead and the need for test wells. Seems your reporting was not reflective of the negatives expressed at the meeting. Maybe you should actually come sometime.

Hi, Robert. Amy Hubbell was

Hi, Robert. Amy Hubbell was at the meeting. Those issues were mentioned in a related story on page 16: "School Board provided stacks of information on synthetic turf." I'll add an editor's note with a hyperlink. Thanks for reading.