Letter: Natural grass a better choice for Freeport HS

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I fully support building a much-needed track and improving the field at Freeport High School, but will vote against the current version of the project. I’ve researched the costs and health and safety concerns. I’ve met with some of the track and turf project members, and a member of the high school renovation advisory committee.

Synthetic turf companies promote the costs on a “per-use” basis as a way to hide the true costs. Installing natural grass instead of synthetic turf could save at least $350,000.

Maintenance costs of synthetic turf are also often understated. Nike Grind will be excellent for the running track around the infield, but it is expensive when used as field infill and is reported to be similar in composition to crumb rubber.

The replacement cost of synthetic turf after 10 years is about $600,000. The need to dispose of 40,000 pounds of old polypropylene turf and 400,000 pounds of infill is environmentally irresponsible.

Concussions, torn ACLs, turf burns and infections are a problem. Mainly due to player concerns over injuries, the Baltimore Ravens football team recently ripped up their synthetic turf field and replaced it with natural grass.

Fireworks and sparklers burn at 2000 degrees and could easily damage synthetic turf.

The high school renovation money is not really “extra” money, but is a contingency fund for the school renovation, and may be needed for furniture.

Recommendation: Immediately consult sports field design engineers to change to natural grass, and vote on the change before the end of January.

Bill Schmidt