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By, Naomi Gamorra

To TURF or NOT to TURF that is the $3,000,000 question before Glen Rock Voters this November 4th. There is no question that something must be done to improve the playing conditions on Lower Faber Field.  The combination of years of playing, soil type and other factors has led to hazardous conditions on a field that cannot support current use. If Faber goes Grass or Artificial Turf (AT) excavation must be completed in order to relieve soil compaction and increase drainage.


The question is what kind of Turf.   In order to float a bond the Borough needed an estimate for how much to write the bond. Stantec – GR’s engineering firm gave 2 Cost Estimates. One is for grass at 2.3 million and for AT Turf at 2.7 million. So for $400,000 more we get a Turf field that  provides us with more playing hours, we don’t have to have the rest time that grass needs, and we can play after it rains, etc. On the surface it sounds like the added benefits outweigh the extra cost. What’s the problem?

A “grass roots “ group of Glen Rock residents come together to create a ballot initiative and force a referendum on this issue by collecting  1064 signatures in 10 days – almost double  the 569 signatures that were  originally needed.  So everyone was not happy with the AR choice.

The Top 8 Reasons Why People Might Vote No on Municipal Bond Ordinance #1:

  1. Artificial Turf Cost- vs Grass Turf. Look at the total 10 year cost not just the initial installation price tag.  Both turfs have annual maintenance costs and eventual replacement costs.  It’s not about the tax hike of 75 dollars per year, to repay the bond debt but the replacement of the AT “ rug”  which would be about 1,000,000 dollars every ten years.  Lest we forget the two turf fields at the HS will also be in need of replacement. Field Turf has stated that the base needs replacement as well after 20-30 years which would be another 1,000,000 per location. The Board of Education plans to build another AT field at Coleman. How many millions of dollars is that over 30 years? (not including Coleman).  Do we have the information needed to analyze real cost comparisons.?
  2. INJURIES-The Women’s Professional Soccer Team Association is suing the Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA because  they are being forced to play on AT and the men’s professional soccer teams are playing on grass. Their concern is with AT, there is a higher incidence of turf burns and injury rates.  Check out items 30, 31& 32 at
  3. HEALTH RISKS – People are concerned with the health risks associated with playing on AT. Recent NBC News pieces describe cancers- lymphoma and leukemia seen in soccer players most notably goalies.  There is no direct link of crumb rubber to cancer, however a component of crumb rubber Benzothiazole (BZT) is a known carcinogen and mutagen. BZT may volatilize from crumb rubber and result in inhalation exposure.  New York City has stopped installing crumb rubber fields in its parks as did the City of Los Angeles.  Until we know for sure, do we want to expose our children to this risk?
  4. “AT” HEAT Concerns: Until we have an actual estimate we do not know what the infill will be- rubber?  One half inch of cork/coconut (corkconut) over rubber  is a new infill product and preliminary reports suggest may lower field temperatures. But as a new product its performance is still up in the air. Corkonut is an organic matter and behaves much like soil; it absorbs water and freezes, rendering it inappropriate for a playing surface substrate.

This summer the AT field at the High School was 40 degrees higher than the adjacent grass field (138 degrees v. 98 degrees).  Natural grass helps heat dissipation/temperature moderation and creates oxygen. Artificial turf generates heat.  Wouldn’t a 130 degree playing surface cut into playing time?

ENVIRONMENT- Is this project right for Glen Rock and consistent with 2002 Master Plan? The Glen Rock Environmental Commission in 2011 prepared the following report.


“Artificial Turf: Environmental, Health and Safety”

Goal #5 of The Open Space and Recreation Plan Element is “To preserve lands located adjacent to Diamond Brook in order to protect the environmental characteristics of the water bodies and its surrounding land areas.”

Converting natural land to artificial turf does not preserve the land or protect the environmental characteristics of the Diamond Brook and is thus not consistent with this goal.  While the Borough has obtained a Wetlands Permit for the project it is unclear how to prevent particulate rubber from migrating into the Diamond Brook and tributaries? What could be the toll on our wetlands ?

7.  COMMUNITY- This 5 acre open space will no longer be  park land  when 4.5 acres is paved and is allocated for sports use only. There really is not much else you can do or would want to do on an artificial turf field.  Is this $3,000,000 expenditure the best choice for Glen Rock? Many people find the installation of a “ sports complex” at Faber Field in what is a  simple practice field/passive park to be “excessive”.

8.  HAVE OTHER OPTIONS BEEN FULLY VETTED?  We have two new AT fields at the High School. How would the addition of lights increase playing time? What about the addition of AT at Coleman?   Has the borough fully explored the turf field experiences of our neighbors in Ridgewood and Ramsey? What went wrong? What went right? Can we just keep calm, carry on and vote no until we know the answers to all of these questions?

COMPOMISE- Unfortunately this issue has polarized our town. No matter what the result of Tuesday’s vote, it is my hope that we can come together and listen to each other and design a plan that is in the best interests of all Glen Rock Residents.

Access these 2 web sites to get additional information about AT versus Grass turf.

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