Guilford Turf Field Issues Lead to Pre-Litigation Mediation
Zoe Roos Shoreline Press Published Oct. 16, 2018
The artificial turf field at Guilford High School (GHS) was damaged to the point of closure only a year after it was built and finding the cause and a fix has been a lengthy process. After months of investigation, the parties involved in the materials or installation of the field have yet to come to an agreement, pushing the town to look at legal options.
The $1.1 million artificial turf field opened for play more than a year ago, following an intense and protracted debate in town about health and safety issues associated with artificial turf.
The field is composed of sections of artificial turf carpet, which comes in several pieces that are stitched together. That carpet sits on top of an impact-reducing shock pad, which sits on top of a soil drainage base. The weave of the carpet is filled with Enviro-fill, a coated sand infill material.
In January, Parks & Recreation Director Rick Maynard said some of his crew members noticed a problem: The synthetic turf carpet was coming apart at the seams and sections of padding had come apart. Maynard said his crew immediately notified him of the problem and he called the field installer and representatives from the shock pad and the carpet companies to come out, take a look at the problem, and come up with a solution.
Since both the carpet and the shock pad are under warranty, Maynard said that whatever repair costs come up will likely be covered by the company. In March, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) agreed with Maynard that the town should hire its own independent consultant, Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc., to assess the issue as well.
In August, First Selectman Matt Hoey said investigations show that extreme temperatures and drainage issues caused the issue and that the failures were spread out across multiple components of the field.
“Kaestle Boos is very confident in the analysis and the testing that was done at the sports lab that they used, so that final report, after it was blessed by our attorney, went to the six partners and the partners include the engineering firm that designed it as well as the manufactures of the various components and then the installation team,” he said. “That group has been charged with coming up with an agreement or solution amongst themselves. If they fail to do that, we will proceed to the next step, which will be some form of litigation.”
Now in mid-October, the parties have failed to come to an agreement, so the town is looking at various legal options to force the parties to come to some sort of understanding.
“We offered a pre-litigation meeting,” said Hoey. “All of the parties have accepted that litigation and I believe they settled on an arbitrator. We put a couple of names out and they finally accepted one.”
Hoey said the goal of the pre-litigation meeting is to try to produce a mutual agreement on cause and remediation without having to take the issue to court. The town had previously indicated that the right fix is likely going to involve taking the whole field up, fixing the drainage issues, and then putting down a new pad and turf.
“There are multiple parties involved and there is denial that any one company is responsible for this, so that is why we are going to pre-litigation mediation,” he said. “There is still hope that mediation will resolve this before long and in a window that wouldn’t be accomplished if we had to go through the full lawsuit.”
Hoey said that any solution won’t create additional direct expenses for the town, due to the warrantee, and that, while some have asked why the town doesn’t just look at a quick fix for the problem, that a quick fix wouldn’t stop the issue from happening again.
“The Standing Fields Committee, Kaestle Boos, as well as our attorney and I all agree that a remediation for the affected areas does not ensure that it’s not going to happen elsewhere on the carpet,” he said earlier. “There is already potential weakening in other areas. The big problem is the pad has created gaps. The pad is supposed to be interlocking and that has separated, so without pulling back the entire carpet, we don’t know if there are other separations, so going in and doing a remediation on three or four areas is, we think, a fool’s errand.”
Easy to make mason bee hotels, using phragmites, the invasive reeds growing in nearly every wetland around us. Just cut them, stack them as pictured and throw them out after use by native mason bees (which rarely sting). You will be accomplishing two goals, cutting back this invasive plant and giving these important pollinators a place to nest. Thanks to Martha Gach from Mass Audubon for this image and for the idea. Martha suggests putting a wire mesh over the front if squirrels or birds are eating the bee pupae.
Elections are around the corner! Come to Earthplace on Monday evening to learn more about Ballot Question #2 and the Transparency in CT on public land transactions. This ballot could have major impacts on how public land sales and purchases are shared with the community.
This event is hosted by the Westport League Of Women Voters and will be at Earthplace on Monday, October 22nd from 7pm to 8pm. The guest speakers will be Eric Hammerling, Executive Director of the CT Forest & Park Association, and David Brant, of the Aspetuck Land Trust.. It is open to public and FREE. Refreshments will be provided.
Our watershed is part of the story of communities removing non-functioning dams and opening them to fish passage. Thanks to the Conservation Office in Norwalk, which worked for years to have the Flock Process Dam removed this summer in Norwalk! therevelator.org/dam-removal-projects/... See MoreSee Less