HomeHaddonfield NewsTurf timeline, design discussed, debated

Turf timeline, design discussed, debated

A purportedly brief discussion on proposed turf construction quickly turned into a lengthy debate on the merits of artificial fields and possible dangers to both residents and the environment at the Tuesday, Feb. 26 commissioners meeting.

Remington & Vernick Engineers representative Doug Hopper was on hand to give potential timelines for the project at the high school as well as details on the design.

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There are four contracts going out to bid and deal with the timing of the beginning of construction, Hopper said.

If contracts one or two are decided on, work will begin on approximately May 23 at Anniversary Field, which is after the end of track season, however, no work will take place on Stadium Field until after the June 20 graduation. Work would be complete by Aug. 23 to allow for the football team to adjust to the field.

If a contract is awarded for an earlier start through options three or four, the construction could be done on Stadium Field by June 14 with Anniversary Field following on July 1.

“We feel that we may get better pricing by doing it in the spring,” Hopper said.

Design samples were on display at the meeting as examples of turf that would be comparable to the fields to be installed.

“There’s many manufacturers,” Hopper said. “They’re very similar.”

A storm water management system will be incorporated in addition to designing the fields.

At Stadium Field, drainage occurs vertically. If Anniversary is built, the outlet will be different, he said.

Resident John Sullivan asked for the conditions of Anniversary Field being turfed.

Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough replied that finances play a big role.

“The factors of approving this are that the bids come in within the monetary restrictions that we have,” she said.

Bids will make the decision in the process, with funds going toward construction and engineering fees.

Bids will also be compared to estimates. If the bids are astronomically above the estimates, the borough will have to delve deeper to see if there is an issue, she said.

There are concerns regarding the trees close to the fence near Anniversary Field, many of which are being overtaken by ivy, Hopper said.

McCullough replied she wants to have the conditions of the trees noted prior to the commencement of the project.

According to Borough Representative Todd Day, there should not be any effect on trees by the project.

Residents in attendance remained unconvinced.

Tree roots spread deeply under the field, resident and Haddonfield United leader Brian Kelly said.

According to Day, most trees are away from the fence by 15 to 20 feet.

The turf will be six feet away from the fence, said Hopper.

Shade Tree Commission chair Robin Potter echoed Kelly’s concern, citing the desire to receive a criterion for inventory of the trees in the area.

McCullough said in reply that she would give the inventory to Potter once complete.

“We rely on (Potter) to give us the right information,” said Mayor Tish Colombi.

“It’s a very shallow system,” Hopper said about the proposed field construction, with about a foot of stone underneath the turf.

The trees are on the top of a steep slope and the roots stabilize the soil, Potter said.

If compromised, the slope could be destabilized, allowing for significant erosion, she said.

Potter said that she would feel better about the project if a certified arborist was able to look at the trees to better understand the margins of construction compared to the roots.

“I would recommend that,” she said.

Resident Mary Fagan agreed that the borough should take a closer look, as any trees removed would counter the intent of Green Acres grant funds.

Replacement saplings would take many years to fulfill their purpose of controlling erosion, she said.

“The trees catch some of that and slow it down.”

Resident Diana Eichfeld asked about the model used to determine the rate for a 100-year rainfall.

According to Hopper, the areas of the fields are B-soils, which means the potential for run off is less than if you have D-soils, which are like clay.

A 100-year storm has a 1 percent chance of occurring each year and includes 8.6 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period, he said.

Questions were also raised regarding safety, with many residents citing studies that have been done in recent years.

“This is the safest system for high school football,” Hopper said in reply.

“There’s a lot of questions,” Eichfield said, and there should be more community input on the issue.

“We’re a republic, like you said,” she said.

Resident Dr. Susan Hoch mentioned the possibility of sand-cap natural grass fields. Hoch had also made the suggestion at a previous commission meeting as well as at the last school board meeting.

According to Commissioner Ed Borden, the turf idea has been in the works for many years and the Let’s Turf It! Committee raised more than $600,000 to fund the effort last year.

A resolution was subsequently approved to partner with the committee for the turf.

Maintenance costs for the fields will be seen in the school district’s budget, Borden said.

As the presentation portion of the meeting came to a close, Commissioner Jeff Kasko said that officials would work to get everyone’s questions answered before work begins.

“That’s a concern to me that people have a feeling that there’s still unanswered questions,” he said.


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