Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Of Artificial Turf and Storm Water

Last night, John Sharkey of Rhinebeck Architecture and Jeffrey Budrow of Weston & Sampson made a presentation about the Hudson City School District's current capital project to the Board of Education. The first forty-five minutes of what was billed to be a one-hour presentation was taken up with the new athletic field. Budrow summarized what was proposed: a 400-meter running track surrounding a field striped for football and soccer (which could also be striped for field hockey and lacrosse), with "D zones" for pole vault and high jump and for long jump and triple jump, and four 80-foot poles providing nighttime "sports lighting." 

Budrow displayed two versions of a full-color rendering of the field--both with bright green artificial turf and the blue hawk logo at the center. The first showed the track surface in red, the color, he explained, that was the most UV stable. The second showed the track in blue, because schools like to have the track reflect the school colors. It was later revealed that a blue track would cost $37,000 more than a red track.

It has not yet been decided if the playing field will be natural turf (i.e., grass) or artificial turf. Budrow stressed that the artificial turf being contemplated is not Astroturf but rather "long tufted strands of polymer plastic." He described it as an "engineered system" that reduces the G-forces on the brain and reduces the possibility of concussion when players fall. It was noted that there had been a moratorium, now past, on installing synthetic turf playing fields in New York State. Speaking to that, BOE president Maria McLaughlin commented that the research done at the time of the moratorium was inconclusive and observed that many of the studies showing the benefits of synthetic turf have been funded by Monsanto. She said that the studies typically involved natural turf on ground that was much harder than the soil in Hudson. 

The life expectancy of artificial turf is fifteen years, after which the fiber breaks down and needs to be recycled. The BOE will be looking at a cost comparison of maintaining a natural turf field and an artificial turf field over time before making their decision. 

Jack Connor, who coaches the girls' track team, called the design for the athletic field "pretty good" but pointed out three shortcomings: (1)  The two lane track proposed was only good for dual meets. Eight lanes would be needed for regional events. (2) There was no accommodation for steeple chase. (3) The long jump should have two runways. Connor suggested that having a track capable of hosting regional meets could bring income to the district from use fees and concession sales.

There were also concerns about the orientation of the field. BOE member Sage Carter observed that the sun would always be in the eyes of the spectators seated in the bleachers. Budrow explained that the optimal orientation for the field was only slightly different from the one being presented and that earth moving was "the cost prohibitive part of reorienting the field."

With only ten minutes left in the hour designated for the presentation of the capital project, attention shifted to what is being proposed for Montgomery C. Smith School. After acknowledging that the past practice of directing storm water into the ravine, its natural receiver, had caused erosion and created a delta effect in the ravine, Budrow explained that the plan is to direct storm water by a piped system into Underhill Pond, thus eliminating erosion problems.

He went on to explain that acquiring the sought after 1.4 acres from the City of Hudson, which he noted the City was amenable to, would not allow them to extend the proposed new building farther south because the soil there was fill and would not support the proposed construction. Instead, two classrooms would be constructed on top of the existing "tech wing."

No elevations were shown last night for the proposed new building. When Carter asked if the board could see a rendering that showed the existing building with the proposed new building attached, John Sharkey of Rhinebeck Architecture assured her that such drawings would be created. Construction of the new building is not expected to begin until August 2017. 


  1. The serious erosion of City property after decades of negligence is only one facet of the stormwater challenge.

    The other is water quality, and the nature of the runoff which would be diverted to Underhill Pond.

    On the map above, I don't see any of the fine-filtering mechanisms which were previously discussed. (Gross filtering is necessary just to maintain the infrastructure, so don't let anyone tell you that keeping large branches out of the drain is due to environmental sensitivity.)

    Previously, "green" stormwater controls were being discussion, although we were always told that there was no money in the original proposal for stormwater. (That's because the public missed its opportunity under SEQRA, and because the School District decided that a SEQR Public Hearing wasn't necessary.)

    Reading this Gossips post, I'm worried that the lowest consciousness stormwater solution is being offered just as the fickle public has moved into summer mode.

    Keeping in mind that the eroded ravine and Underhill Pond are both owned by the City, did the School District just telegraph something by saying it no longer neede 1.4 acres of City property? Was the project sponsor telling the City it had lost its leverage where stormwater is concerned? (Where the school gets free land in exchange for a good stormwater design.)

    And where is the Conservation Advisory Council on all of this? What is the purpose of a CAC if not to advise the Common Council and City on issues like this which concern City property?

    For that matter, does anyone know why tonight's CAC meeting was canceled?

    We can do a lot better than this.

    1. unheimlich--Sage Carter did ask about sediment buildup and was told that there would be hydrodynamic separators at the top of the hill and that all the water comes off a roof or a paved driveway, so there wouldn't be a lot of sediment. The plan seems to be more concerned with taking the velocity out of the water than the sediment.

      I don't think there was any message that the school district no longer wants the 1.4 acres that belong to the City of Hudson. There was passing mention of HCSD collaborating with the City to apply for a grant to address these issues. I have no more information about that.

    2. Thank you Gossips.

      Yes, contaminants from parking lot and roof runoff comprises more than sediments, a concept with which the City also struggles.

      Sometimes it seems as if the phrase itself, "hydrodynamic separator," is the magical solution to all stormwater problems. That's how it's employed by the City's DPW, as if NASA had been called in.

      The School Board has some very environmentally-minded members, Sage Carter among them. Of course they must always consider their budget, and we must continue asking the right questions.

      I wish I'd known about this meeting. There was an earlier meeting on June 2nd which I could not attend. Perhaps this was the same meeting and it got bumped.