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School district plans to replace 'head-rattling' turf in 2003

"Athletes who practice and play on the 11-year-old artificial turf at Silverdale Stadium know first hand that the surface needs replacement.The two things my kids have said is that it's hard and that it's abrasive - in football when you hit it your head rattles, said Brad Hamblet, Klahowya Secondary School's football coach.One of Hamblet's players sustained a serious abrasion from the field that resulted in an infection last year, the coach said.I think it has been a safety issue for a while because of the hardness and the sand that has risen to the surface, Hamblet said. Anybody who hits the surface will get ground by the sand. Safety concerns and a consultant's recommendation have prompted Central Kitsap School District officials to recommend the surface be replaced by fall 2003, with cost estimates ranging from $629,640 to $909,480, depending on the type of surface. The original warranty covered seven years and projected a useful life of 10 to 15 years, said Dirk Gleysteen, director of operations for the district.The CKSD's Finance Committee and Facilities Advisory Committees advised the school board to begin setting unallocated heavy impact funds - money allotted by the federal government to the district to replace property taxes from military bases - to pay for the project. The board decided at its June 27 meeting that ample money would be available in 2003, and not to set aside funds this year.The district hired Donald Hogan, a leading designer of athletic fields, as a consultant to assess the condition of the surface relative to its age. Hogan found the field in good condition for its age, but noted a surplus of sand perched on the surface. The turf will remain safe and playable for two years, but should be replaced after that. In the meantime, steps should be taken to reduce abrasion, Hogan said. He suggested the district use a special vacuum sweeper to remove the sand. We plan to purchase or borrow (a vacuum sweeper), Gleysteen said. Our goal is to have the surface sand off by fall.Gleysteen stressed the machine would be a sizeable investment ($20,000), but the tow-behind sweeper the district now owns is inadequate. We would want to make sure (the vacuum) would be right for the current and the replacement turf - that will take some research because no decision has been made as to what the replacement will be, Gleysteen said.The vacuum will help, but abrasiveness is a characteristic of artificial turf and sweeping won't eliminate the problem, he added.Eight types of artificial turf systems are available in the area with a range of prices, and Gleysteen said he would begin to gather information on options this fall.We need to make a decision in the fall of 2002 in order to get it designed and constructed by 2003, Gleysteen said.Hamblet hopes the district will consider a surface similar to the rubber-filled fieldturf system recently installed at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium. With as much as the turf gets used, it needs to be artificial, he said. I think the surface the UW has should be explored.Other damages noted in the surface were a tear near the 33-yard line on the north end of the stadium and fading of the turf by ultra-violent rays. Hogan recommended that summer maintenance include a hose cleaning to dislodge foreign material and flush the surface of bacteria. "

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