By S. Quinn DeJoy and J. Murrer
Jul. 26, 2017: If all goes according to plan and the weather cooperates, the new turf field at the school should be ready for play by late August. The field, which stretches from Midland Avenue to the new parking lot next to Meadow Avenue, will be similar to Chambers Field, but instead of a crumb rubber infill, the new field will have an organic infill composed of coconut and cork.
Negative public sentiment about crumb rubber infill has increased in recent years because of an observation made by University of Washington soccer coach Amy Griffin. Griffin gathered information about a number of soccer players with cancer and suggested that the rubber pellets in artificial turf might be the cause. Extensive media coverage helped fuel the concerns.
Many scientific studies have shown that the correlation between crumb rubber and cancer is not supported by scientific evidence. An extensive literature review commissioned by the New York City Department of Health found that crumb rubber is unlikely to increase the risk for any health effect, and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that based on current studies there is no elevated health risk.
Several school districts in Westchester have decided on organic infill, including Bronxville, Pleasantville, and Irvington. The switch to organic infill has one main advantage--the playing surface will be significantly cooler. The coconut infill absorbs water, which evaporates as the sun warms the field. The evaporative cooling effect keeps the field at a much lower temperature.
Because the infill is organic, it will naturally decompose over time and will need to be topped off every few years. It might also need to be watered, depending on rain and humidity, as optimal performance requires moisture. No food or drinks other than water will be allowed on the new infill.
Like Chambers Field, the new turf field will be fenced, including high fences along the borders of Midland and Meadow Avenues. Trees and shrubs will be planted along the fencing.
With coconut the new order of business, perhaps the Bronco Barn and Grill will start selling coconut water and coconut smoothies.
Pictured here: Construction of the new turf field.
Photos by J. Murrer