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PAUSD Board deciding on Synthetic Turf tonight

Original post made by Lindsay Joye, Terman Middle School, on Nov 13, 2007

Anyone concerned about a rush decision to accept a gift to pay for replacement of both high school fields with synthetic turf should come speak tonight. They plan to waive the 2 meeting rule to decide tonight.

Board Agenda: Web Link

The jury is out on the long-term health implications of synthetic fields. Rubber substrate outgasses, and they get very hot in warm weather. Last week New York Assembly member Steven Englebright proposed a ban on all new artificial turf field installations until the environmental and health effects are examined. Web Link

I just don't see synthetic turf as being a good sustainable choice for our children. They spend too much time in artificial environments and don't have enough contact with good ole' dirt.

Comments (10)

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Posted by Kerry
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 2:19 pm


Any legislator can play to the fears of mothers. It will get him votes. He could probably scare you about allowing your kids to drive on paved streets, too. However, synthetic turf surfaces have been in play for about ten years (not talking about astroturf), and the results have been good.

Synthetic playing surfaces avoid the use of herbicides, fresh irrigation water, major maintenance. They allow all-weather play. They do play hotter, but that can be overcome with large-throw sprinklers that provide evaporative cooling. They are not perfect, but they are MUCH better than natural grass, under normal circumstances. The pay-back on synthetic turf is huge, if one considers costs and risks.

This one is a no-brainer. The BoE needs to waive its standard PA process, and take the money...then start building the fields! They also need to say a big "THANK YOU" to whoever gave the money...very generous gift!

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Presumably this material is the same as the turf at Mayfield soccer field. It is a good surface and provided everyone obeys the rules about what to allow on the field (no food, no stakes, etc.) this should be an asset to not only the high school sports, but the whole community that uses these fields.

PS, be careful about putting a logo on the field, at the Canada college baseball field, once the ball has dropped on the logo, the catcher looses sight of it and it can't be seen.

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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 13, 2007 at 2:33 pm

I live a couple of blocks from Paly's field, I don't have kids who are likely to benefit, and I agree with Kerry. Let's not be paranoid and let's not hold this one up. Pick and choose your battles for the lengthy Palo Alto process - this isn't one of them. As far as contact with good ole' dirt, kids have fewer injuries with this synthetic stuff. It's like playground sand vs. tan bark vs. synthetic rubber. Sometimes synthetic is better.

Another Thank You to the anonymous donor!

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2007 at 3:04 pm

The other issue being voted on tonight is whether to call the Garland lease.

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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 13, 2007 at 3:34 pm

When I served on the city playing fields task force some years ago, it became very apparent that sport turf is the best choice for fields like PALY's and Gunn's. Several of the advantages have already been enumerated, I will mention a couple more:

--savings on maintenance results in a 7 year payback
--safety of the surface is far superior, since holes and the like are not caused by play and use. Far fewer broken ankles, etc. compared with a natural grass surface
--more time available for use, with lights, a field that might not be used for many hours other than school time adds a great deal of needed capacity for use by other community groups when it does not interfere with the school's requirements. Palo Alto is facing continued increase in demand for playing field uses by a number of bona fide community organizations, the fields at present are way over taxes, neighbors have to tolerate a great deal more noise than they should have to--getting additional capacity this way will be a huge benefit to many Palo Alto groups

In an ideal world, we would have perfectly maintain natural grass fields that play very nicely all year round, and are maintained to a satisfactory state. That will not happen, we need to encourage a culture of fitness and community involvement in recreation such as that which occurs on our various sports oriented organizations, and sport turf is a great way to make sure that we are providing the greatest opportunities for play and recreation in Palo Alto.

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Posted by Bill Glazier
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2007 at 3:49 pm

I have 14 teams of young lacrosse players (Tomahawks Youth Lacrosse) who play on the Gunn grass football field and the Mayfield turf field. There is no comparison - *everyone* prefers the Mayfield 3rd generation turf fields. The Gunn football field has not been kept in the greatest condition over the years - and so there is always the risk of injury due to divots, sprinklers, and bare spots with that grass field as it exists. A turf field at Gunn will make it much more useful for the community, a better playing environment for our kids, eliminate rain out days in those rainy winters, and safer for everyone.

Yes, it is hotter in the daytime and in the summer. A small price to pay - especially when you consider that right now Gunn has to keep the football field basically closed for the summer so the grass can get restablished for football season! Lots more quality time for school and community uses, a safer playing environment, and money saved on upkeep. As easy a decision as they come, in my opinion.

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Posted by Susan
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 4:10 pm

My oldest son broke his ankle while playing soccer on a natural grass field in Palo Alto. He hit an uneven bare spot, and his ankle folded in. It was horrible to watch. It took him about six months to recover. My younger two children (boy and girl) play on the Mayfield fields. They are great!

I sincerely hope that the Board of Education moves forward, tongiht. It is long overdue.

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Posted by Lindsay
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Nov 13, 2007 at 6:40 pm

There are many good points on the benefits of a smooth & level playing surface. If only they could get a donor to help maintain the grass fields to the same quality.

I wonder if dumping rubber pellets with arsenic, cadmium, lead, & zinc over large areas at our schools is in the best interest of our students. The outgassed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are known carcinogens.

According to the CDC, athletes with burns from playing on synthetic fields are seven times more likely to develop MRSA infections.

All of us have been touched by cancer. Do we really want to add to our carcinogen exposure?

Both sides of this decision should be heard.

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Posted by Kerry
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 6:56 pm


You forgot to mention the synthetic fertilizers and herbides necessary to maintain those pristine grass fields that you are talking about. You also do not mention the huge amounts of fresh water necessary to maintain that grass. How about the fumes from the mowers that mow the grass? The fact is, those grass fields are impossible to maintain, given the use that they have.

Presumably, you allow your children to walk or ride their bicyles near paved roads, correct? If so, you MUST also be concerned about all that invisible tire dust that they are breathing into their lungs. Same chemicals, except that they don't breath those rubber 'sand' particles into their lungs when they are playing soccer, because they are too large to breath.

No-brainer. Build the fields now!

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Posted by Ellington
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 28, 2008 at 2:30 am

Looks and feels like real grass for less than real grass! it provides oxygen, filter rainwater or cool the air.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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