Fayetteville-Manlius Board of Education: Is the grass always greener?

Proponents for a new artificial turf field at Fayetteville-Manlius High School gave rounds of applause during last week's regular school board meeting. A special, comprehensive presentation, given by school administrators, focused on the benefits of a new playing field and described three options to the board, one of which was decidedly preferred.

In August, a petition with more than 1,000 signatures was presented to the BOE, requesting that another referendum be held for a turf field at the high school. The first referendum was defeated in 2004. Thursday night's meeting began the new proposition.

"What really takes us indoors is not the weather, it's the field conditions," said Athletic Director Rich Roy, explaining to the board why the physical education curriculum would profit from turf.

Safety standards become compromised when gymnasiums are overcrowded, and athletes often end up practicing either indoors or in the parking lot.

"Many times for our spring sports teams, the first time they step out onto the field is their first game," Roy said. "Gyms and parking lots don't simulate the actual playing environment. With a turf field, they can practice from day one on the actual environment they'll be playing on."

Another primary factor to consider is safety.

"Grass seems to be one of two constitutions: hard pan or mud," he said. "Both of those situations are dangerous and unsafe."

All turf fields are tested with a Gmax rating, which is a measure of shock absorbency.

"Artificial turf maintains perfect consistency no matter what the weather and no matter how many events you put on it," he said. "Grass can't do that."

Three options, one preferred

Architect Larry Abgar presented three options to the board: 1A, 1B and 2. While 1A and 1B remained similar in features, option 2 would place the turf field over the existing football field. In order to build it, the track and field would have to be completely demolished and the subsurface would have to be reconstructed for drainage. The cost of option 2 is approximately $4.7 million.

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