Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NYC's Fake Grass Gamble: A $300M Mistake? by Patrick Arden - City Limits Magazine -

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In 1998, New York City began installing synthetic turf fields in parks and playgrounds, saying the artificial material would be more durable than grass. But a City Limits investigation finds that many turf fields are falling apart, including this one at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Soccer players examine the turf at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. 

Soccer players shout at midfield, but not about their game: The field is falling apart.
“It’s been like this for five years,” complains Israel Arreola, as he points to the open seams, torn patches and wavy folds in the artificial turf at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Referees for public school league games already boycott two artificial-turf fields there, citing fears of liability. “This is bad: holes everywhere,” says Arreola, a Manhattan sous-chef who plays in a weekend league.
The reasons behind this buying binge have been many, ranging from the battle against obesity to an alleged cost savings on field maintenance. Artificial turf is part of PlaNYC, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's blueprint for an environmentally friendly future. Yet a City Limits investigation has found that overuse and chronic neglect has run turf ragged years ahead of schedule; price comparisons generally favor natural grass, even in the long term; and the health risks of turf—largely dismissed by the city after the destruction of one artificial field for high lead levels in late 2008—are much broader and deeper than previously reported.“Somebody’s going to get hurt.” Over the past 12 years New York City has borrowed an estimated $300 million to put 204 artificial-turf fields at parks, schools and playgrounds. An additional 52 fields are on the drawing board.