Inspection will determine if $2.6 million high school fields need turf replacement

After signs of premature wear were discovered last year, the artificial turf fields at both Hahnville and Destrehan highs schools were recently inspected to assess whether warranties on the fields had been breached by the company who installed them.

Both field systems were installed by FieldTurf Tarkett in 2008 for a combined cost of $2.6 million. Of that total, the turf portion of the fields cost around $451,000 for the initial installation. Those fields are under warranty until August 2016.

John Rome, executive director of Physical Plant Services for the school system, said the latest inspection of the turf took place on Feb. 6 and that the school system is awaiting the results.

“A FieldTurf representative informed us that we should receive a report within the next few months,” he said.

According to Rome, inspectors with FieldTurf Tarkett reviewed the fibers in several spots on the field including the end zones, logos, hash marks and field lines, and documented their inspection with photographs. In addition, inspectors measured the grass blades to assess their length now in comparison to when they were first installed.

Rome said since FieldTurf Tarkett holds the warranty, it will be up to their determination on whether the field will qualify for replacement under the warranty in the future. If replacement is needed in the future, it is unclear whether FieldTurf Tarkett will offer to replace the entire field at cost or only give the school system a discount on new turf and installation.

FieldTurf Tarkett has installed more than 4,500 artificial turf fields across the country.  Since the construction of the fields at Hahnville and Destrehan, numerous others schools across the country using the same turf have experienced premature wear on fields that were installed between 2006 and 2009.

In a lawsuit filed by FieldTurf Tarkett against Tencate, the company who made the grass fibers in the artificial turf that are allegedly behind the problems, around 170 fields nationwide have shown signs of deterioration.

At Hahnville High School, wear to the artificial turf is most noticeable. Some of the synthetic grass blades have broken and fibers within them have become unbound and lay flat on the ground rather than sticking up.

Officials with St. Charles Parish Public Schools were first alerted to premature wear on the schools’ artificial turfs in November 2012. FieldTurf Tarkett examined the turf and found the fields had not reached the point of failure at that time and did not warrant replacement.

While the school system is currently awaiting the results of the test, there has already been talk of possible legal intervention.

After being alerted to the issue last year, then School Board Vice President Jay Robichaux said should a disagreement arise between he schools and FieldTurf Tarkett on the handling of the situation the schools may have to pursue action in the courts.

“We are working with them very closely and we will consult with an attorney if it gets any worse,” he said.


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