Info-Artificial Playing Surface
The Board of Education, over the course of the last several years, has been developing plans and exploring options to install a multi-purpose athletic field at the Lyme Street campus with an artificial playing surface.
The primary drivers of this exploration are excessive overuse of the existing fields, the need for additional field space for practice and games, and a lack of available water to irrigate fields resulting in high maintenance costs.
In determining options for a playing surface, the board has focused on safety for students, safety for the environment, as well as the short and long term costs associated with different options.
As interest in this project grows, provided below is additional background and research that has helped shape the direction of current plans as well as provides a history of decisions and public forums to date.
FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND GENERAL OVERVIEW OF PROJECT
Our fields are used for physical education classes by more than 700 middle and high school students much of the year, as well as for athletics. Eighty-percent of high school students participate in athletics.
In the fall and spring, fields are used daily by multiple teams, averaging 25-68 hours of use per week depending on the season. The suggested maximum usage for good quality grass fields is 20-24 hours per week. In the fall, fields are used for varsity, junior varsity and middle school boys and girls soccer. In the spring, fields are used for varsity, junior varsity and middle school baseball, varsity and middle school softball, and varsity and junior varsity lacrosse.
Field Use Info
In addition to adding much needed additional practice space and minimizing overuse, an artificial playing surface can be played upon earlier in the season when grass fields are muddy and unusable, as well as be played upon during wet weather preventing cancellations and rescheduling of practices and games. A majority of away and tournament games are played on artificial playing surfaces, lending a slight advantage to those teams practicing on similar surfaces.
Currently, athletic fields are closed during the summer due to lack of water. An artificial playing surface would allow us to extend the use of our fields to community groups over the summer.
WATER AND IRRIGATION
Limited water supply has been the greatest challenge in maintaining our grass fields for many years. The well dug in 2017 supplies water to our main campus and also supplies water to town hall, the fire department, LYSB, and the Old Lyme Historical Society. A pump installed in 2019 allows us to use a limited amount of pond water to supplement our irrigation efforts. While helpful, we continually face water shortages and have had to purchase tanker trucks of water to maintain the fields in years past increasing the cost of upkeep.
PLAYING SURFACE OPTIONS
The original presentations focused on a crumb-rubber infill, a recycled product that can also be repurposed at the time of replacement. We are also looking at alternative infill options. Some options such as cork/coconut blends, walnut shells, etc. are no longer being considered based on the high cost of installation and yearly maintenance or irrigation needs that can’t be met. That still leaves a handful of other infill options currently being explored.
COST AND MAINTENANCE
The cost of the project is proposed to be in the range of $2 to 2.4 million dollars and would be funded through the district’s undesignated fund. This fund is separate from the operating budget and therefore would not impact the annual budget.
The slide below outlines costs associated with installing and maintaining a natural grass field vs. a synthetic playing surface over the course of 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years.
A large amount of research has been completed in the last decade regarding artificial playing surfaces. The University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC), The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), the Departments of Public Health (DPH), and Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) worked together to complete research based in CT and those links, along with others, are below.
CT Department of Public Health, Artificial Turf Fields Overview, scroll down ½ page for links to studies from all partner organizations
CT Department of Health Artificial Turf Studies
DEEP Risk Assessment
EPA Research on Recycled Tire Crumb Material
Milone & MacBroom Environmental Letter
Milone & MacBroom Wetlands Delineation & Impact Assessment
SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS, FORUMS, AND NEWSLETTERS
April 2017 Multipurpose Field Committee Meeting Minutes
May 2017 Multipurpose Field Committee Meeting Minutes
June 2017 Multipurpose Field Committee Meeting Minutes.
November 2019 Focus on Education Update
December 2019 Milone & McBroom Presentation to Board
May 2020 Inland Wetlands Commission Approval
September 2020 Zoning Commission Minutes
October 2020 Public Forum Passcode: e$DKrf14
October 2019 CT Examiner Article
November 2019 CT Examiner Article
November 2019 CT Examiner Article
December 2019 LymeLine Article
December 2019 CT Examiner Article
May 2020 CT Examiner Article
September 2020 LymeLine Article
September 2020 CT Examiner Article
October 2020 LymeLine Article
October 2020 CT Examiner Article
November 2020 CT Examiner Article
We hope the information provided is helpful in fully understanding this project. As always, we welcome questions and feedback from the community.