The Mt. Lebanon School District will be responsible for maintaining the municipality’s new turf fields once they are installed.
The school board voted 7-1 Monday to enter into an agreement with the municipality to maintain Wildcat and Middle fields in Mt. Lebanon’s Main Park. Daniel Remley voted against the agreement and Scott Goldman was absent.
“We currently do field maintenance down at Wildcat and Middle fields,” superintendent Timothy Steinhauer said. The only difference is that now the district will be tending to turf fields instead of grass fields.
Earlier this month, the municipality awarded an $888,000 contract to Vasco Sports Contractors of Massillon, Ohio, to install turf at the two fields. The school district already owns the equipment required to maintain the fields because the high school’s football playing surface is turf.
Mr. Steinhauer said it costs about $5,700 per year for upkeep on the grass fields and the amount will decrease to $4,331 per year to maintain the turf. He said the maintenance staff at the school uses a machine to “fluff” the field about once a month and also adds infill when needed.
During public comments after the vote, resident Kimberly Schevtchuk asked the board to reconsider its decision to maintain the turf fields.
“This is a different kind of animal,” she said, adding she was concerned about young children playing on the field and the potential hazards coming from the crumb rubber infill.
“I do not believe the board has done the due diligence,” Ms. Schevtchuk said.
At a meeting of the Mt. Lebanon Board of Commissioners last month, Philip Johnson, an environmental health expert said chemicals in the turf included black carbon from rubber tires and possibly lead.
“The municipality disregarded Philip Johnson’s advice to have a public health official to look at it,” Ms. Schevtchuk said. “There is no allowable exposure to lead for children under age 12.” She also added that she thought the cost to maintain the field was underestimated.
“Whether or not to have turf was not our decision,” said board President Elaine Cappucci, who added that the district is just doing the maintenance on the field, nothing more.
Solicitor Thomas Peterson said the high school has had an artificial turf field for 30 years, and the district already owns the equipment.
“The work the district is doing on the field would have had to be done by the municipality, but the municipality would have had to purchase the equipment,” Mr. Peterson said. He added that having the district do the maintenance saves money for taxpayers.
Deana Carpenter, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.