Vashon Island schools to discuss natural vs. synthetic turf

Vashon schools must decide whether to install natural or artificial turf fields.

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. -- A public forum is scheduled Thursday to discuss whether a natural or synthetic replacement is wise for Vashon Island High's track and field facilities.

The current natural field has almost no drainage, and after a season of play and heavy rain, turns into "muck."

"They look pretty good when they're not used," said school board President Bob Hennessey, "But the minute the rains start coming down in the fall, they get totally obliterated."

Meanwhile, the track is in worse shape.  It's made of crushed brick and has not been upgraded since it was installed decades ago.  Its condition makes it unusable for the track and field teams.

A fix was included in a $26.9 million bond put to voters in February.  The bond, which would also have built a new gym, was rejected by voters.

Now, the district wants to ask the public whether a natural or artificial track and field is the best method moving forward.

Synthetic fields have drawn controversy nationwide for potential health hazards connected to crumb rubber, crushed tires used as a cushion material. 

However, the industry is now moving towards more organic materials, which Hennessey believes is more appropriate.

"I'd rather not beg the question (of synthetic turf)," he added, "Just go with something that avoids the controversy."

Copyright 2016 KING


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