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CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: WTNH News 8

Coconut and cork turf approved for Hamden High School field

BY MACY CORICA

Posted: August 29, 2016
Originally Published: August 26, 2016

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a new synthetic field plan for the Hamden High School Baseball and Multi-purpose field.

The current field is a natural grass baseball field and officials say it has a drainage problem. In February, the commission approved the construction of a crumb-rubber turf field, but immediately faced backlash from concerned parents. The crumb-rubber is made of recycled ground-up tires and some believe they pose a health risk. Parents, as well as Senator Richard Blumenthal and President Barack Obama, pushed for more research into the safety of crumb-rubber.

Hamden Mayor Curt Balzano Leng said the town looked at concussion ratings and learned that crumb-rubber is not very bouncy, and loses its bounciness over time. The town then looked into more natural products for the field and found that cork and coconut keeps its bounciness for a longer period of time. It also feels like dirt and is cooler.

“The quality of our fields, the safety of our athletes, and the health of our community are the most important factors in determining how Hamden proceeds with just about any improvements project. Given the opportunity to provide better fall protection, a more natural feel to the field of play and near elimination of the chemicals inherent in all other infill choices – this system and design is the best option for this field, at this time,” said Leng.

A “shock pad” which comes with a 25-year warranty, will be installed under the turf and will help the impact absorption and concussion prevention. An alternate turf infill product known as “GeoFill” will be used. Officials say this product is entirely organic, stays cool, even in hot weather and gives the field a more natural and grass-like feel.

“We applaud Mayor Leng and the Town for choosing safe, natural materials,” said Louis Burch of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals for children should be everyone’s top priority. This is a significant victory for Hamden families, and we call on neighboring communities to follow suit.”