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The Guilford High School artificial turf field will have to be entirely rebuilt in the coming year. (Photo by Zoe Roos/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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It all must go. After nearly a year of investigations into the failure of the fairly new artificial turf field at Guilford High School (GHS), town officials recently announced an agreement has been reached among all involved parties and the entire field will have to be taken up and rebuilt.
The $1.1 million artificial turf field opened for play more than a year ago, following an intense and protracted debate in town about health and safety issues associated with artificial turf.
The field is composed of sections of artificial turf carpet, which comes in several pieces that are stitched together. That carpet sits on top of an impact-reducing shock pad, which sits on top of a soil drainage base. The weave of the carpet is filled with Enviro-fill, a coated sand infill material.
In January 2018, Parks & Recreation Director Rick Maynard said some of his crew members noticed a problem: The synthetic turf carpet was coming apart at the seams and sections of padding had come apart. Maynard said his crew immediately notified him of the problem and he called the field installer and representatives from the shock pad and the carpet companies to come out, take a look at the problem, and come up with a solution.
Since both the carpet and the shock pad are under warranty, Maynard said that whatever repair costs come up will likely be covered by the company. In March, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) agreed with Maynard that the town should hire its own independent consultant, Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc., to assess the issue as well.
In August, First Selectman Matt Hoey said investigations show that extreme temperatures and drainage issues caused the issue and that the failures were spread out across multiple components of the field. However, in October all parties had not yet come to an agreement on a fix for the field, so the town moved to pre-litigation mediation to try to find a solution and avoid going to court.
In late December, Hoey said the mediation was successful and all parties have come to an agreement.
“It’s a confidential agreement that has been reached,” he said. “The five other parties reached an agreement amongst themselves. We are a third party beneficiary of that agreement.”
Hoey said the entire field will have to be reconstructed—everything from the carpet down to the drainage below the field—but since the field is under warranty, the town will not have to pay.
“The town will not bear any costs for the field itself,” he said. “We may have some engineering costs to manage the process but not for the construction of the field or any of the pieces.”
Even though winter isn’t the ideal time for construction, Hoey said there is still some work that can begin soon.
“As soon as the agreement is finalized by the mediator and all parties have signed, they will start work because they can start doing the removal of the existing materials, etc.,” he said. “The work that needs to be done is substantial and they are hoping to start, weather permitting, as soon as they can.”
At this point, Hoey said he is not able to comment on exactly what part of the field failed, but earlier conversations about the issue suggest that extreme temperatures last winter and drainage issues may be the source of the problem. Additionally, considering the time of year, it is not likely the field will be rebuilt and ready for play this spring season.
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