Building Work For Turf Plan

Field turf is long lasting, but parents and officials are concerned of potential health risks.
Field turf is long lasting, but parents and officials are concerned of potential health risks.

The Mineola High and the Hampton Street schools will receive significant upgrades as part of a plan to install athletic turf fields at both locations, should the Mineola School District obtain voter approval in November to spend capital reserve funds on the project. The district is targeting Nov. 10 or 17 for a public vote.

“Before we do anything we have to review the project,” District Superintendent Michael Nagler said at a recent school board meeting. “There’s a lot of things we’re putting in this project. So I want to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Hampton would receive a new cafeteria, classroom additions and bus loop along with field upgrades as part of the $7 million plan. The running track around Hampton Stadium would be renovated with astroturf, Nagler said. Hampton is also eyeing a new concession stand and semi-permanent lighting for the stadium.

“No vehicles will be able to drive on it,” Nagler said of the track. “The homecoming parade will change. It’s a walking track. It’ll allow us to get the field, in particular the end zone, nicely protected.”

Hampton Stadium would get a new field if the project is approved.
Hampton Stadium would get a new field if the project is approved.

The high school will gain a new technology lab, combining the metal and wood shop with computer design. A robotics lab would sit at the center of the addition, in an enclosed room. The building additions would be eligible for New York state aid, with Nagler estimating $500,000 in October 2014.

“The kids will work on computers now,” said Michael Mark of Hicksville-based Mark Designs, who’s handling building and field work. “All of that happens in one area. They’ll be graphing on computers now. The manufacturing and production will happen in wood and metal shop, all in one technology space.”

The high school field sports a 382 meter running track. Previous plans suggested for a 400 meter track, but Mark said the configuration of the area calls for a smaller path.

“It’s the closest we could fit within the footprint of the school,” he said. “There’s no space for grandstands. We’re not infringing on the baseball field.”

The turf infill, a much-debated topic both nationally and locally by school districts and athletic institutions due to its contents, has given school reps pause recently. Nagler said Mineola is planning on using “coolfill” (green plastic pellets) at both sites. Plastic infill carries a $60,000-$150,000 bill, Mark said in July.

School Board President Christine Napolitano expects infill providers to present options to the board and discuss its makeup prior to the reserve vote.

“It’s such a big topic and I hope in a year we’ll have more information,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of question marks so hopefully in a year we have more information.”

The most popular infill used nationwide contains crumb rubber that consists of recycled tires. Multiple studies concerning crumb rubber health effects, including those conducted by the EPA, are dated, with the most recent one completed in 2009. The recycled tires made of the infill pose no threat, the study says, but the EPA admitted “it is not possible to reach any more comprehensive conclusions without the consideration of additional data.”

“We have not made a decision on the fill,” Nagler said. “In the base bid, we’re going with the coolfill. Not the tires. We’ll get prices on it. You don’t have to decide on that for another year.”

District reps say a bid date for prospective contractors for the job is June 9, 2016, with construction to begin that summer. The district had been examining plans at both locations dating back to October 2014. Mineola is looking at a 40-42 week review time from the state Education Department, concerning the plan.

“Once you [make a resolution], the project goes into the queue with [New York] state,” Mark stated. He said the education department is hiring two engineers and architects to streamline proposed projects in New York Schools.

Chief Desginer Michael Mark discussed the turf field plan.
Chief Desginer Michael Mark discussed the turf field plan.

“The engineering review is what is lagging everything behind,” he said. “Architects will review projects in six weeks. But some projects are more engineer-heavy than others. There’s three people for the entire state. That will be five soon and eventually seven.”

To pay for the project, Mineola expects to tap $4 million from its capital reserve fund, which allows the board to designate future monies toward other capital projects. The reserve was created in 2011 by a proposition attached to an election day budget vote. Money that goes unspent remains in the reserve and can’t be utilized without voter approval.

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