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Turf Field in a Floodplain , Not Getting Any Smarter all these Years Later

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photo by Boyd Loving

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, in 2019 the Ridgewood blog reported that the Ridgewood Board of Education voted to again install a rubber crumb based field turf at RHS Field Stadium . In the usual method the Board made its decision without open discussions with residents, vendors ,students  and healthcare and environmental professionals. Crumb Rubber fill is basically ground up car tires .

The Ridgewood Board of Education continues to ignore the potential health risks of “Crumb Rubber  ” both for the athletes using the fields , the down stream environmental contamination and the higher temperatures .

Maple Field which is also in a flood plain opted  for a more eco friendly design , using a coconut based fill .  .

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services , “Synthetic or artificial turf is a surface of man-made fibers and other components which are made to look like natural grass. Since the 1960’s when synthetic turf was introduced, the popularity has grown. Over 12,000 synthetic turf fields are in use within the United States today.

A standard synthetic turf field uses infill materials, such as “crumb rubber,” which is spread between the “grass” fibers to provide cushioning and traction. This crumb rubber consists of shredded rubber particles made from recycled automotive tires often mixed with sand. Crumb rubber from recycled tires contains numerous potential carcinogenic and toxic substances.

In recent years, the use of tire crumb rubber as part of the infill has led to larger public concern for potential health risks.

A flood plain is an area that is subject to natural flooding from an adjoining waterway and according to Synthetic Grass Warehouse ,”There is a misconception when it comes to understanding drainage in synthetic turf products. Just because your turf product says it can drain 30+ inches per hour doesn’t mean your sub-base will. Understanding sub-base materials is very crucial to a successful installation. Most turf installers think they can just cover up bad soils with good drainage soils. Eventually, the underlying soils that are high in clay and/or conglomerates become fully absorbent, then reject excess water intrusion – this is when flooding occurs.”

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28 thoughts on “Turf Field in a Floodplain , Not Getting Any Smarter all these Years Later

  1. This must be the 10th time this has happened since 2010..?

  2. One can only conclude that, to the Board of Education, money is no object. Additionally, if still-developing brains must bash against each other with concussion-causing force, must it be done on a toxic/carcinogenic field??

  3. So a grass field would repel the flood waters?

  4. Did you consider that it might not cost quite as much to repair a grass field?

  5. A layer of mud and silt covers most of the field. It’s hard to tell there are rips in the carpet or not.

    Maple Field got the worst of it.

  6. There is so much to say about this post. I am grateful for the Blog for the opportunity to bring it out in the open once again. To the individual that said would grass repel flood waters, the answer is no. Our fields are in flood plains. They will flood. Watch how quickly Vets Field comes back which is a grass field. There is inherent absorption with a natural field. The cleanup will not have to include 100s of thousands of dollars of turf repairs or eventually the entire replacement of the product itself. Many of us have fought this for years ( actually there are blog posts going back to 2005 ). The very least you can say is that placing artificial turf in active flood plains is fiscally irresponsible. My bigger concerns though are player safety and environmental. The rug ( the top layer you play on) is not biodegradable and sits in the land fills for ever if it ever makes it that far and contains substances which in many cases are harmful to ones health. We had options . We chose Field Turf which is a company that in NJ alone has had multiple law suits filed against them which the Bof E knew about and still used them. Last, about the only thing we can do to mitigate climate change is plant green and ban plastic. We can no longer vote on the school budget and I fear that without a ground swell of public support for grass fields using the new blends that are pest and drought resistant, the current field management will continue.

  7. Well we do know if you do get a major cut or tear in your skin when playing on artificial turf it must be cleaned out immediately because it can get severely infected from the plastic. Yes you can get infected I’m playing on sarin Grassfield too but not as much. Yes the artificial turf fields to look beautiful but they do cost a lot of money. And remember it’s plastic it’s not natural and the products to come from a recycling facility. So you don’t know what’s next to those plastics. You can eat anything on a natural field and will not die, you start eating materials from I think field you will die. There’s so many chemicals.

  8. The whole thing was an awful boondoggle. The synthetic (they hate the word artificial!) turf company salesman was Mr. Snake Oil. We have been hornswoggled. Rip it out and plant grass and stop overusing the fields–the end.

  9. Since turf has been installed, field usage has increased dramatically. Maple and Stevens fields prior to the installation of turf were hardly used, now there are athletes on them 7 days a week. Grass fields require maintenance, chemicals,seed, and water, so there are negatives with both options. They also attract geese, which brings other issues.

  10. Artificial turf fields require maintenance as well and in addition need to be sprayed with antibacterial solutions to limit contamination. We have better grass blends. Most professional teams( NFL, MLB , soccer ) prefer natural fields for a multitude of reasons. The United Stares Women Soccer Team has been advocating for grass fields for years. As far as playing time that is now debatable with the down time due to flooding, cleanup and replacement. Any way we no longer have a choice.Artificial turf is a hazard to the environment.

  11. Flooded grass fields will not be in use any quicker than turf fields and how do you remediate the dirt. Orchard school fields are a perfect example of toxins held in dirt.

  12. The issue issue isn’t so much of synthetic vs. grass as much as it’s completely asinine to have the pedestrian bridge so low. It’s so low, it acts like a dam. I have clear pictures showing as such. I’ve been at my new property less then 70 days & had 3 floods & this Time it entered my house. I’m already in talks w/ the BOE as they are looking for remedies. Either this is gross negligence at the highest levels, or there’s real money in the clean up… I’m going with the later… That bridge is a clear & present danger with heavy rains…. It didn’t have to be that bad .. this is very manageable. Something smells over at the BOE

  13. a natural grass field for the stadium field would get used max 8 times athletically – football only. and even then it would be torn up and a mud bowl by thanksgiving. increased use of our facilities is the key

    the field situation in ridgewood is limited, you’re not finding additional non-flood zone locations to use and I don’t see anyone lining up to see their property, take it off tax rolls so fields can be in better locations

    as for the bridge, if i remember correctly, there is a problem trying to rebuild since it is in the path of the river and thus the last time it came up it was leave as is or remove completely. no chance of building something higher over the water

  14. Captain Jack & Fast Eddie’s nightmare continues.

  15. My prediction: with the Lembo/Dani/Kwak majority the fields will be replaced with grass.

  16. And Bergen county is doing a poor job with dredging the brook of the length of Ridgewood. It’s their responsibility.

  17. When is the last time burn County dredge the Brooke from Hohokus to Glenrock. We are sure on spots it needs to be dredged, you could see all the sandbars that would help a bit.

  18. Once again, the residents will stay silent and wear the fleecing as a badge of honor…. Ridgewood is officially the Laughing stock of NW Bergen county.. tax payer purchases 1,000,000 for the elks building, 3 mill for mount Ridgewood on 17…

  19. Just have the idiots on Heights rd, Moutain Ave and Avondale pay.. after all, they all love to brag about paying 50+k in taxes but feel the need to steal Christmas decorations from a local fine dining establishment…

  20. Yes so very true Bergen county needs to clean their waterways up more often.

  21. The reality is that our fields will flood because they are on a flood plain. Secondly, artificial turf requires ongoing maintenance so it is not one and done. The question is do the costs of maintaining the artificial turf including during floods outweighs the benefits of the turf during normal periods? Also it may be that we ha e not gotten enough quotes from other vendors raided the one we currently use.

  22. I seem to remember clean-up costs for the last storm being about $4K.

  23. You can’t vote on your school budget…
    That’s over 100mm per year…
    How fucking stupid can you people be?

    1. that is a legit question

  24. Move the entire field behind Sommerville.

  25. Eliminate sports. Problem solved.

  26. There has to be a better solution than replacing the turf every few years. It’s costs millions of dollars to so. I’m sure there is a viable solution to mitigating any flood damage to the turf. Perhaps raising the entire grade of the athletic complex itself? A project of that proportion would be a multi million dollar investment, however, there are grants and loans that the BA and BOE can apply for through the state to secure such funding to help alleviate the possibility of a referendum or an increase in taxes for residents. We would need to determine in it is viable to make such an investment that would end up possibly saving millions of dollars over the next 10–15 years.

  27. Stupid is what stupid does

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