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The work of replacing the artificial turf field began on April 1 at Guilford High School. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
The initial work of replacing the failed artificial turf field at Guilford High School began with started with crews pulling up the carpet in strips and bagging it for removal. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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More than a year after the fairly new artificial turf field at Guilford High School failed, a complete reconstruction of the field is now underway. The entire field will be taken up and rebuilt and town officials say the hope is to have the new field ready for the fall pre-season.
The $1.1 million artificial turf field opened for play in 2017 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.
Both the carpet and the shock pad were under warranty. In March, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) hired its own independent consultant, Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc., to assess the issue as well.
In August 2018, 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.
As of April 1, contractors were on site to start work. The first step involves removing the field infill and while the whole field—all the way down to the drainage system—will come up, Hoey said he expects contractors to move at a brisk pace to complete the project.
“These guys are going to want to get in and out of there as fast as possible because this is costing them money, not us,” he said. “…It could be as fast as 90 days. The intent is to get this thing done and ready to roll so it is ready for late-summer pre-season stuff.”
Hoey said the field is under warranty, so the town has no construction costs and the field warranty will reset once new construction is completed.
“There is no cost to us for the construction itself,” he said. “The only cost that we have are costs associated with the engineering firm to monitor the project. We are out any previous costs associated with our due diligence with the firm we used to figure out what the problem was and represent us through the negotiations and mediations.”
Hoey said bringing on a consultant to represent the town ended up being a good move as contractors for various components of the field had struggled to come to terms on the actual cause of the filed failure. At this point, Hoey said he’s 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.
“There was an agreement among the partners in mediation as to what needed to be done to give us a field that would preform as we expected it to,” he said. “This mediation agreement requires complete confidentiality on that.”
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