Lebo turf project proceeds despite health questions

Published Apr 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm (Updated Apr 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm)

Mt. Lebanon’s field turf project is moving steadily forward despite concerns over alleged health risks associated with artificial turf.

“We are not experts on the health effects of artificial turf,” municipal engineer Dan Dieseroth said at a presentation at the April 8 commission meeting. “Jim (Sauer) has been reaching out to some of his contacts in the industry. We are hope to get some additional information and possibly get someone in front of the commission to answer questions.”

Organic turf infill is currently an alternate item in the project specifications. Sauer, owner of landscape architect J.T. Sauer and Associates, voiced doubts about the long-term durability of organic infill in a previous presentation.

Some Mt. Lebanon residents remain concerned that certain elements of artificial turf infill, such as recycled tire crumbs, contain chemicals that would be harmful if ingested.

Recreation director David Donnellan also summarized a draft policy for advertising signage at the turfed fields. Ad revenue is supposed to defray maintenance costs for the turf over time. Donnellan said the policy’s goals are to ensure the fields remain attractive, minimize maintenance costs to the municipality and offer a reasonable cost to participating businesses.

The policy would permit advertising primarily along the field fences, not including backstops on the baseball and softball fields. The fee to businesses is currently set at $750 per year, with discounts for multi-year contributions. The policy also provides for recognition of donations that are not ad related, for example in the form of plaques. Donnellan said it excludes online recognition for simplicity’s sake.

He estimated the sports groups have raised $115,000 to $120,000 as of the first week of April. He did not have a figure for actual cash collected to date. He said the Mt. Lebanon Community Endowment has created a fundraising page where residents can donate to the project using their credit cards.

“We expect the amount of donations to increase as the sports groups get the word out to their members,” Donnellan concluded.

Mt. Lebanon sports groups have pledged to raise $250,000 for the project.

The municipality aims to approve the project in May, bid it in June and begin construction in August.

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