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Towns review turf fields

SCOTT FRIEDMAN

By JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer

The New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) will assist local school boards in exploring possible legal action against FieldTurf, a company that vehemently denies allegations that it sold defective artificial turf fields to schools across the state.

“The news reports should anger anyone concerned about corporate responsibility, the health of students and the preservation of limited resources,” NJSBA Executive Director Lawrence S. Feinsod said in a statement dated Dec. 7. “They allege fraud and deception that bilked taxpayers out of millions of dollars. We are urging school boards to have their attorneys contact NJSBA’s general counsel, who will assist districts in identifying and coordinating legal action.”

Locally, the use of the Duraspine material by FieldTurf, which has been reportedly deteriorating sooner than the advertised lifespan, is being reviewed.

The turf fields at North Brunswick Township High School are made by Shaw Sports Turf and are not Duraspine material, according to Superintendent of Schools Brian Zychowski, thereby alleviating concerns.

Within the Township of North Brunswick, however, Sabella Park on Cozzens Lane and David B. Crabiel Park on the border of North Brunswick and Milltown are FieldTurf-built fields, Councilman Carlo Socio said during a Dec. 5 council workshop meeting.

“We have not experienced any trouble on the fields,” said Lou Ann Benson, director of the North Brunswick Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Services.

Socio, who is the council liaison to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, said “if there is any collective action, the township will get in on it.”

According to Gary McCartney, superintendent of schools for South Brunswick, the three turf fields that were installed during the summer of 2014 are FieldTurf products.

“As with all district purchases, we will monitor the product against the specifications, promises and warranties made by the seller. At this point, I am unaware of any performance issues,” McCartney said.

It was not known as of press time if any township fields in South Brunswick may be under review.

However, Eric Daliere, president and CEO of FieldTurf, posted a lengthy statement on the company’s website calling the allegations a “sensationalistic and negative portrayal of the company instead of presenting a balanced accounting of the facts.”

Daliere stated he wanted to set the record straight that “New Jersey fields were not, and are not, defective.”

“We maintain the Duraspine UV issue has not caused, and will not cause, fields to fail during their warranty periods in New Jersey. The fact that over 75 percent of all Duraspine fields in the state that are 10 years or older (two years past their warranty life) are still in use supports this. It is ridiculous to insinuate … that a field is defective simply because it does not look the same when it nears the end of its warranty period as it did when it was first installed. Just as a tire loses tread over time, splitting and fibrillation is normal for fibers — it is how they age,” he said.

For more information, visit www.fieldturf.com.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.

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