A material designed to control the temperature of artificial turf will be added to a new athletic field being constructed at Riverhead High School.
The Board of Education voted in favor of spending an additional $27,250 on the voter-approved project to purchase CoolFill, which school board member Greg Meyer said attempts to control the temperature of rubber fields, making them safer to walk on.
“The heat temperature of the field seems to be probably the only thing we can control,” he said.
The district will take the black rubber material it was already planning to use and dip it in CoolFill, which turns the rubber green.
“It can lower the temperature at the field quite a few degrees,” Mr. Meyer said.
After much discussion and comments from parents, Mr. Meyer explained that the district had a few options before ultimately choosing CoolFill. One was to use a coconut fill, which Mr. Meyer said would have cost the district an additional $250,000 at least.
“Part of that is you can bounce off rubber better than you can bounce off a coconut shell,” Mr. Meyer said. “So you have to put an extra piece of padding in the carpet itself. Then the coconut infill would go in after that.” In addition, the district would have had to install an irrigation system for an additional cost.
Mr. Meyer added that coconut fill can only be used for six to eight years, as opposed to rubber’s lifespan of 10 to 12 years.
School board members said they also talked to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as officials at the health and education departments, for information about the safety of rubber.
“Basically,” Mr. Meyer explained, “nothing that was said about rubber was bad.”
“There was nothing that said it was good,” he added, “but nothing said it was bad, so we went along with what the state education department would allow us to do.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Calverton resident Greg Fischer received applause from audience members when he stated he opposed the school board’s decision.
“Mr. Meyer and I don’t have an agreement about what the facts are about coconut,” Mr. Fischer said. “There is no advantage to tire rubber. The tire rubber costs a lot more to dispose of because it’s toxic waste.”
The $1.2 million voter-approved turf field project is scheduled to be completed this fall.
Photo: Riverhead school board member Greg Meyer. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo / Sept. 8, 2015)