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Article posted: 5/23/2012 4:44 PM

Glenbards moving ahead with artificial turf fields

By Christopher Placek

Artificial turf will be installed at football fields this summer at Glenbard South and Glenbard East high schools and be ready for the start of the new school year in August.

Those are the two final schools to get new turf since Glenbard High School District 87 started a replacement program at Glenbard North in 2009, followed by Memorial Field at Glenbard West in 2010.

All four turf projects were financed through a collaborative funding model that's resulted in almost two-thirds of the projects being paid for through donations from park districts, school booster clubs, anonymous donors and others in the community.

In total, $3.9 million of the $6.1 million total project costs have been donated, according to Chris McClain, Glenbard's assistant superintendent for business services.

At South, for instance, an anonymous donor committed $500,000 and the school's boosters are giving $495,000 over a 10-year period.

At East, Lombard Park District is providing $500,000 in exchange for use of the field and the school's boosters will give $433,333 over a 10-year period.

The district will pick up the remaining costs, mostly through commissions from district vendors such as Pepsi and Profit Systems Inc.

While receiving payment from the boosters organizations, the district will borrow funds and pay off the projects at South and East in eight years -- considered to be the most conservative estimate for the useful life of a field, McClain said.

"It's our intent to take those non-taxpayer dollars (commissions) and apply them toward these projects," McClain said.

The South project, which also will include replacement of the track and reconstruction of the sidewalk, will cost $2,146,600. Officials have said the soil composition supporting the existing track is inferior to that of other schools, and the site will require significant detention work.

The East project will cost $1,418,000. Both projects will include encapsulated crumb rubber infill, which is deemed to be safer than standard crumb rubber, in light of safety concerns first raised by board member Tom Voltaggio. He had suggested that the materials used for the turf -- often recycled car tires -- might be harmful to students and the environment, and the district could be putting itself at risk of lawsuits.

McClain said the encapsulated crumb rubber releases a smaller amount of emissions than does standard crumb rubber, though he says studies by the Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission have deemed the standard material to be safe.

Both the South and East projects were approved by the board this month in 5-2 votes, with Voltaggio and Mary Ozog opposed.

Ozog said Tuesday she favors turf at South and East to achieve parity among all four Glenbard schools, but she was opposed to the bidding process by which the brand turf material -- FieldTurf -- was selected. The district only sought contractors for a chosen product instead of bidding for comparable products, she said.

FieldTurf is installed at fields at North and West.

Both projects also will include new scoreboards. Last fall, the school board discussed a proposal to fund the cost of new scoreboards at East and South by allowing advertising on them once installed. While no formal action was taken on the proposal, McClain said there's always the possibility to earn revenue from advertising after the scoreboards are put up.

Construction at both fields is expected to take place after commencement in June, with completion targeted for Aug. 17.

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