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Synthetic Turf for High School by Next Year

The Fair Lawn Board of Education will allocate money toward the construction of a synthetic football field, which it says will increase field access for students and reduce sports injuries.

After a decade of false starts, the Fair Lawn Board of Education is moving ahead to construct a long-sought synthetic field at the high school by next school year.

The synthetic field has been on the board’s agenda since 2002, Superintendent Bruce Watson said. The board included it in its long range facilities plan (LRFP) that year, setting it as a priority for the fund the district sets aside for capital improvements.

“We’ve utilized the plan religiously as we’ve gone through and tackled all of the projects that we needed,” Watson said. “[The synthetic field] was a project that we wanted to do years ago, and we just didn’t get around to it.”

The board put synthetic turf on the ballot for referendum twice, and voters defeated the proposal in 2002 and 2004. In the interim, the item remained on the LRFP plan until other priority items, such as new boilers and roofs for district schools, could be taken care of.

Now that the board feels it has enough savings to pursue the project without compromising other facility maintenance, it has decided to move forward on the project. Money allocated to the LRFP can only be used for capital improvements, Watson said, and not, for example, on school textbooks.

According to the contractor working with the district, the average lifespan of such a field, which has a projected cost of about $600,000, is around 12 years, and will save the district as much as $50,000 in annual maintenance costs—a financial break-even on the first go-around. But as almost half the upfront costs will pay for drainage and excavation work—unnecessary to repeat in the field’s replacement—the district expects it to begin paying for itself in the long run.

But money was not the primary motivation for the project, Watson says.

“If you look at Bergen County, a majority of the high schools already have synthetic turf,” he told Patch. “And the reason why is that all students have an opportunity to utilize it.”

Grass fields are limited in the amount of sports teams that can use them in a given season, since natural grass wears out quickly and has a limited capacity. According to high school athletic director Cory Robinson, only one team is currently able to use the grass field per season—football in the fall and lacrosse in the spring.

With a synthetic field, he says, other teams will have access to the main field for use when poor weather conditions make the grass fields unusable. “It’s a win-win situation. Most teams that need it are going to have access to it.”

Preventing injuries was also a motivation for moving forward on the synthetic turf, Watson said. “Fair Lawn doesn’t have many fields, and the fields we do have are all reused. And we’ve had over the years injuries on the fields because you can’t maintain them when they’re constantly being used.”

Robinson pointed out that new synthetic fields, which contain layers of sand and rubber beneath the surface, are far less dangerous than the old Astroturf commonly associated with injuries.

“The turf fields that I played on, and a lot of the kids' parents might have played on,” he said recalling the turf fields of the eighties, “are totally different from what the fields are nowadays.”

“Over the years research has shown that injuries such as ACL tears, knees, ankles, and concussions have all been tremendously reduced on that surface,” Watson, a former football coach, agreed.

Now that the capital improvement money is available, the board will approve an architect for the project on Thursday and include the projected costs in the budget for next year, which will be finalized in March. Construction could be completed within the duration of the summer, in time for fall sports.

Grace Selina January 16, 2013 at 05:54 PM
When will the theft end?? Its about time those who want the upgrade raise the money to do so without sending the tax collector to retired seniors on fixed budgets. This is not about education at all. We should be recalling board members that support this malarkey.
Mayor Goldie Wilson January 16, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Safe, up-to-date recreational facilities for children? Outrageous! Mayor Goldie Wilson led Hill Valley High to 4 state football championships all while playing on a field made entirely of gravel and broken glass. I see no reason for anyone else to take advantage of advances in technology. Recreational opportunities for children are an insult to the taxpayer! Vote Goldie Wilson for Mayor! I'm gonna clean up this town!
Dan January 16, 2013 at 09:19 PM
How about better science labs so that the students actually learn something useful? How would playing this dumb game help them in the future? We are living in difficult financial time and this seems like something that the school system could do without.
HutHutHike January 16, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Im all for it!!! I hope they add lights and update the locker rooms. The kids deserve it. About time the decent sports kids get treated better!!!
Lewis Partlow January 16, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Its great to see that you are "all for it!!!", how much is that check you are going to write? Or are you all for stealing that money from we the taxpayers?
Deleted because of harassment January 16, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Wasted money spent on sports instead of education. No wonder the US is falling behind the rest of the world.
Hut.Hut.Hike January 16, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Lewis I pay taxes too! So because YOU don't like it it's bad? Deleted are you saying the funding and current educational situation is sub par?
Hut.Hut.Hike January 16, 2013 at 11:25 PM
Further, Deleted how does a football field in a middle class suburban town on the east cost equate to a National Education Crisis? Seems to me you are without foundation on that statement
CHARLES COLES January 17, 2013 at 12:22 AM
HEY DAN Maybe then can learn how to cook crystal meth or make bombs to blow up buildings in those labs LOL.. And it must be a DUMB game because you couldn't play it growing up......
Dan January 17, 2013 at 02:39 PM
HEY CHARLES: Or maybe these labs will teach them valuable skills that will help them to get real jobs in the future and allow them to contribute to the future of the country. Clearly you haven't taken any science classes when you were growing up because apparently blowing things up is the only application of science you can think of. And for your information, I was forced to play touch football in high school. And thought that it was a dumb game that only interests Americans for some reason. Spending 600k when Fair Lawn has half day kindergarten is not the best investment of scarce funds.
Michael Agosta January 17, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Fiscal Irresponsibility is the norm in this town. There was a 25.6% property increase last year. This year, the Board of Ed is going to stick it to us. Plus we are going to get hit with a County tax increase as well as another property tax hike from the council.
Chris Antonelli January 17, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Lol.... There wasn't a 25.6% tax increase. Where did you get that from?
Michael Agosta January 17, 2013 at 04:36 PM
In 2011, the formula to calculate property taxes was .02345. In 2012, it was raised to .02945. Chris, do the math. It's a 25.6% increase. To simplify and further illustrate it, if your house was valued at $400k you paid $9,380 for taxes. In 2012 the value fell to $310,000 and your taxes are now $9,129.
Chris Antonelli January 17, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Let me try simplifing it. There is no increase if there is no increase revenue. The taxes are relative to the tax rate. You're trying to make a coorelation between this year and last. Values and rates are different in both. If your taxes went down, there is no increase. The burden was shifted to the larger, newer houses. Bottom line, the borough needs roughly 145M to operate each year. That cost goes up due to healthcare, contracts, etc..... Regardless of the rate, that money needs to be raised. It's just a little better balanced now.
Michael Agosta January 17, 2013 at 05:30 PM
I simplified it already. We are paying MORE for LESS. If you house value decreases and you are paying the about the same for taxes, that equals a tax increase. Did the council not know about the reassessment? Bottom line: This council majority did nothing to curtail the property tax increase. There was no reassessment for commercial property. They got a 25.6% tax increase on their over inflated property value. Who pays for that? We do; the consumers. So, Chris, homeowners actually got hit twice. Once by the property tax increase and once by the increased prices at all Fair Lawn retailers.
OMG January 17, 2013 at 06:28 PM
Chris, you're ridiculous!
Stuart Pace January 17, 2013 at 06:37 PM
It's about time we get a turf field. But we need to keep the "out of towners" who illegally use our fields OFF the fields. Would like a BOE member to explain the security measures that will be taken for this.
Michael Agosta January 17, 2013 at 08:45 PM
You want the BOE to take over policing actions in Fair Lawn too? They're already busy improving sprots facilities and reinventing the wheel for kindergarten.
Stuart Pace January 18, 2013 at 12:42 PM
This has been a problem all along Mike. Illegal use of our property. Putting a turf field will attract them even more.
Just Facts January 19, 2013 at 04:07 AM
Please....hysterical posts!! both girls and boys sports as well as gym classes will take advantage of a nice field - now minus the GOOSE TURDS!...It was way overdue and a perfect needed upgrade- old field was a torn up mud pit. Put the lights up and have Friday Night Under the lights! and County and State track meets, soocer games, lacrosse, band competitions etc... Cant wait for the Turf! Participating in activities aother than acedemics is part of becoming a productive adult. Good Job! Go Cutters!
Jenne January 19, 2013 at 08:05 PM
So, we are giving the geese an artificially turfed litter box?
Jenne January 19, 2013 at 08:12 PM
Goodness gracious, go over to Dubrow and see all the 'out of towners' using All Sports' precious turf fields-- maintained by the city and hardly used. Why not privatize high school football & baseball while we are at it, save the taxpayers some money! :)
Jenne January 19, 2013 at 08:13 PM
*snort* Stuart, I don't think you can arrest the geese.
Jenne January 19, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Michael, the town prides itself on a 95% college attendance rate in its graduates. So, if kids aren't getting extra help in kindergarten (when brains still retain a higher degree of plasticity) the school is putting in more expensive help later to bring those kids up to speed. At least that's an academic need.
Michael Agosta January 19, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Jenne All I did was copy and paste from a previous article and then I added " = Tax increase" With what do you have an issue? The pasted statement from a previous article or the fact that the taxes are going to increase?
BellairBerdan January 19, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Having an artificial field will not keep the geese from defecating on it. Maybe FL All Sports should donate the money for it instead of the taxpayers. Use some of that great "public and private" cooperation.
brian January 21, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Just another example of a town in major decline. I grew up in Fair Lawn and lived there for 30 years. Very sad to see what has become of the town. The town has fallen off dramatically for several reasons. People who read this won't like it but its true. Mismanaged government, a change in demographics and a dramatic aging of populaltion and physical plant. Nothing is ever done intelligently and it shows.
brian January 21, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Not to mention all the neighbors that will complain about the lights, even though it makes total sense to have them installed.
Just Facts January 21, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Dont worry everyone really - Gov Millionaire Chrispy has this all under control!! He is the genius that has the highest uemployment rate in the country, highest taxes, yells at war heroes, and takes free state police helicopter rides... He will protect your interests... dont worry..... wat a joker!
Just Facts January 21, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Yooo Bellair/Berda - my town has artificial turf.... No geese...and no Goose Turds.... They like the natural stuff.... so there will dfinately be no poopy on this field!!...Unless Rover the dog gets loose and plants one on it...Wild kingdom tends to poop on mother earth,,,not plastic.... This is a great move by Fair Lawn... Go Cutters! Just say "Yes" to POOP FREE!

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