Concerned about Brookwood improvements

February 15, 2013

Dear Editor:
It has been brought to our attention that there is a “Brookwood 2.0” proposal.
As we read about this proposal WE HAVE GREAT CONCERNS!
Our first concern being that the statements that are made are not true. The field has had several improvements such as irrigations system updates such as field and surrounding areas, bleacher replacements, bathroom and parking lot expansions to name a few.
The statement that soccer can be played there is dimensionally untrue the fields are different. Astroturf lines must to be painted on; football and soccer lines are different. The basic repairs will not compare to Astroturf costs.
The bands would be discouraged to practice on the field as the foot traffic would ware down the lines.
This field would only be able to be used for games.
Other concerns about this proposal is the reality of completely digging up the entire field; pour a permanent concrete base (parking lot) with drainage only to stick a fake carpet down that will only last a limited lifetime and will have to be replaced. We have already purchased equipment to maintain Brookwood. Astroturf requires specialized equipment and specialized maintenance. The rocket football and other groups would be required to pay to use this facility.
This is not the time to spend money on a proposal such as this as the tax payers have already put forth tax money towards the Brookwood Complex.
The lack of proper maintenance combined with budget cuts has directly affected the decline of The Brookwood Complex which could be repaired. To completely replace a football field with a ridiculous costly proposal is outrageous.
Suggestions to repair
•Early in the spring install drain tile and re-pitch if necessary
•Spend the monies to improving the irrigation system we have
•Hire a skilled and motivated Maintenance /Grounds Director and allow the budget to properly maintain The Brookwood Complex.
The lack of proper maintenance combined with budget cuts has directly affected the decline of The Brookwood Complex which all could be repaired.
Several local tax payers

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2 Responses to Concerned about Brookwood improvements

  1. Ranger275

    February 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Since the beginnings of this project anyone that has comments or concerns have been asked to give input or come to meetings. We would gladly meet with any group or individual about their concerns or to talk about the project.

    In this case I can’t since the concerned are unsigned. But there are a few facts in this letter that need addressing.

    This is not a Clare Public School’s funded project at all; this is a community fund raising project. If the community doesn’t feel the project should happen, then the funds won’t be donated and nothing will be done. There are no plans for a millage. The community will vote on the project by donating or not donating.

    This not the old Astro-Turf from the days of the Silverdome or Astrodome. This is field turf and there is no cement under the playing surface. Cement is only used for large stadiums that might hold a concert or have vehicles driving on the surface. There would be a new drainage system built to allow for the proper drainage of the field.

    There are no lines painted on the field. All the lines are part of the field, so while most of the playing surface is green where the lines are the actual grass is white or whatever the color of that line is. The lines don’t need to be painted on a weekly basis like on a grass field, saving the school time and money. The field will never need to be watered, mowed or fertilized.

    The field will have soccer lines just like football lines on it, just like all of the multi-use fields used by high schools and colleges in Michigan. The soccer field will be regulation size; it has been approved by the boys soccer coach Doug Helmling who is part of the committee and has been included in every meeting. All of the coaches have been asked to participate and have given letters of support to the field.

    A good example is the Freeland field put in last year by Freeland School’s where Clare will be playing their first varsity football game this fall. The soccer lines are a different color than the football lines and will fit within the track as it will be all turf inside the track. Many schools also have lacrosse lines as part of the field as well. The Rocket football teams both played on Freeland’s field last fall as did the JV football team.

    The Clare Youth Football program, grades 3rd/4th and 5th/6th used to play in Midland but now play in Clare at Brookwood. The Rocket Football program uses the Brookwood field as its home field. The High School football program uses the field, usually a freshmen, JV and Varsity team. There were weekends last fall where 7 games were held on the field. That is a lot of wear, too much for a grass field.

    The field could be used for far more events or games than it currently can be. Varsity Soccer for boys and girls, youth and high school football, band and whatever other events could be scheduled. The field could be used for playoff games for soccer and football well into weather that would tear up a grass field in late fall.

    The project also includes resurfacing the track which is past due and we are also looking at the safety of the bleachers as they are over 30 years old. The bleachers are currently not handicapped accessible.

    The school doesn’t have the money to improve the grass field, drainage wise or in any other way. Just repairing the drainage doesn’t solve the issue of overuse where turf does and it allows for even more teams and events to use it. This field allows Clare to hold those late season football playoff games like Clare used to and also to host playoff soccer games late in the season with a consistent field not changed by weather. It would also allow soccer games to be played under the lights or for larger soccer tournaments to be held. These playoff type games or state championship track meets bring thousands of people to Clare, who pay to enter to game, buy concessions and also potentially spend money in Clare.

    The Brookwood Complex was built by the community on donations and in-kind work and so will this project. Anyone is welcome and invited to attend any of the meeting to discuss any concerns.

    John Punches

    • taxpayers

      February 21, 2013 at 3:14 am

      We appreciate the drive for Clare to be the Best it can be, we all want that. Clare is our home and taking pride in our town is greatly admired and we thank you. However this move towards synthetic turf can not happen and as you read below you will see why. I am not sure what meetings you are talking about. Was the public invited?

      The document from The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and Turf Grass Science written by Aaron Patton covers the Maintenance, Long term costs, Disposal costs of the synthetic fields, Warranty concerns, Player preferences, Player injuries, Potential increases in infections and states:
      Synthetic turf is moving in the wrong direction

      Synthetic (Artificial) Turf vs. Natural Grass Athletic Fields
      With the increasing popularity of youth sports, especially soccer, and the necessity for building more and more athletic fields, many communities are considering constructing synthetic (or artificial turf) athletic fields. Even the Arkansas Razorbacks are considering the move as outlined in a recent article published on January 17, 2009 in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette by Tim Murphy titled “Artificial surface is coach’s desire.” Yesterday’s artificial turf is much different than today’s synthetic in-fill systems in that the new in-fill technology creates a field that looks much more like the real thing (natural grass). The purpose of this turf tip is to provide some additional information regarding synthetic fields so that you’ll be more informed the next time your community is considering a switch from natural grass to artificial.
      It is a myth that synthetic fields require less maintenance than natural turf grass fields or to say that artificial turf fields are maintenance free. Synthetic fields require 1) additional infill, 2) irrigation because of unacceptably high temperatures on warm-sunny days, 3) chemical disinfectants, 4) sprays to reduce static cling and odors, 5) drainage repair and maintenance, 6) erasing and repainting temporary lines, and 7) removing organic matter accumulation. In a recent presentation by the Michigan State University, Certified Sports Turf Manager, she cited that the typical annual maintenance costs of her artificial turf fields ranged from $13,720-$39,220, while the typical annual maintenance costs of her natural turf fields had a similar range of $8,133-$48,960 (1).
      Long-term costs
      Long-term costs are less with natural turf fields compared to synthetic turf fields. Artificial fields need replacing every 8-10 years, whereas a natural turf field does not need as frequent renovation and can be renovated at a much reduced price compared to an artificial field. In a 16-year scenario, Fresenburg came up with an annual average cost for each field type as follows: the natural soil-based field, $33,522; the sand-cap grass field, $49,318; the basic synthetic field, $65,846; and the premium synthetic field, $109,013 (2).
      Disposal costs
      When artificial turf (in-fill systems) needs renovating every 8-10 years, there is a hidden cost of disposal. Because the field is filled and top-dressed with a crumb rubber material (typically made from ground automobile tires), the material may require special disposal. Disposal costs are estimated at $130,000 plus transportation and landfill charges (3).
      Warranty concerns
      Artificial turf (in-fill type) is a relatively new product. As such, its complete life span and maintenance requirements are not fully known. When considering the purchase of one of these systems, the answer to several questions should be researched prior to purchase. These questions include (adapted from Natural Grass and Artificial Turf: Separating Myths and Facts) (3):
      • Will the artificial turf manufacturing and installation company provide a warranty specifying the expected life of the product?
      • Will the selling firm provide a warranty bond for the life of the product? This will ensure that there is some legitimate recourse in the event of a product failure even if the seller is no longer in business.
      • What is the longest period of time the artificial field being specified has been in use at another school, college, or university?
      • What conditions or maintenance practices will void the field’s warranty?
      • Does a single warranty cover all aspects of the artificial field’s soil base preparation, base materials, artificial turf materials, etc; will there be separate warranties and warranty voiding conditions for each element, some of which could contravene each other?
      • What is the minimum and maximum financial investment in specialized equipment that must be purchased to maintain the artificial field at a level that will provide maximum playing conditions and maintain the warranty?
      • What level of technical training is supplied, recommended, or required for the maintenance crew in order to properly maintain the area and the warranty conditions?
      • What are the warranty requirements or recommended processes to address each of the following repair or replacement demands of the artificial surface:
      o Damage caused by fire? Large and small areas.
      o Damage caused by vandalism?
      o Discoloration of areas caused by wear pattern differences?
      o Replacement of areas caused by wear or other physical or weather-related damage?
      Player preference
      A recent survey of 1,511 active NFL players by the NFL players association found that 73% of the players preferred playing on a natural grass system, while only 18% preferred artificial turf (4). Nine-percent of the players had no preference.
      Player injuries
      There is a lack of research comparing injuries incurred on new in-fill artificial fields vs. natural grass fields (5). There are data indicating that the traditional artificial turf fields increased athlete injury, primarily due to increased surface hardness.
      Although actual data are not available, anecdotal data are available from NFL players. Players were asked in a 2006 survey “Which surface do you think causes more soreness and fatigue to play on?” Five-percent felt like natural grass systems increased fatigue, while 74% felt that artificial turf systems were more responsible for fatigue (5). Twenty-one percent felt they were the same. In the open comments section of the survey, the most common comment was “make all fields grass to prevent injuries.”

      Potential increases in infections
      An aspect of synthetic turf that is now receiving increased scrutiny is the potential for increased incidences of infections among players that play primarily on in-fill systems. In a report titled “Texas Football Succumbs to Virulent Staph Infection From Turf”, at least 276 football players were reported to be infected with an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, a rate of 517 for each 100,000 individuals (6). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported a rate for the general population of 32 in 100,000. These infections were primarily associated with increased skin abrasions associated with synthetic turf and the risk of infection that might occur off the field from infections. In-fill systems must now be routinely treated with special disinfectants to reduce the likelihood of infections, adding another cost to the maintenance of these fields.
      High temperatures
      Artificial fields cannot be played on all the time due to temperature build-up on warm-sunny days. Artificial field surface temperatures have been documented as high as 199°F on a sunny day with an air temperature of 98°F (7). Researchers at Brigham Young University reported that the surface temperature of a synthetic football field on campus averaged 117°F, with a daily high of 157°F (8). On an adjacent natural grass field the surface temperature averaged 78°F, with a daily high of 89°F. Researchers at Penn State University studied the effect of using irrigation to reduce surface temperatures of synthetic fields and discovered that temperature could be decreased with irrigation, but the effects were short-lived (20 minutes) (9). Because of these high temperatures, an artificial field will remain largely unusable during warm days. Additionally, practicing on an artificial field could increase the incidence of heat stroke, muscle cramping, and overall athlete fatigue. Coaches holding practices on synthetic fields will need to monitor athlete health more closely and will need to limit the duration of practices on these surfaces to reduce the risk of athlete injury.
      The images below comparing air, water, bermudagrass, sand, asphalt, and synthetic turf surface temperatures illustrate how hot a synthetic field can reach during a warm day.

      Going green
      With continuing efforts to increase the sustainability of all of our communities, a synthetic turf is a move in the wrong direction. Synthetic fields do not require fertilizer or pesticides, which may make them seem environmentally friendly but keep in mind the following:
      • Synthetic fields are made of plastic and then in-filled with pulverized rubber particles instead of plants as on a natural grass field.
      • Both the synthetic turf and the rubber must be disposed of when the field reaches its life capacity (8-10 yrs). Natural grass fields require renovation less frequently with much reduced renovation costs.
      • Synthetic fields do not cool the environment like natural turf.
      • Synthetic fields and natural grass fields have similar irrigation requirements since both need irrigation in warmer months and little to no irrigation in cooler months.
      • Synthetic fields do not help to filter air and water pollutants.
      • Synthetic fields do not fix CO2 (carbon-dioxide) and release O2 (oxygen) as do natural grass fields.
      • The net carbon loss for a synthetic field is high, whereas a natural grass field will have a net carbon gain despite the need for fertilizer and some pesticide inputs to maintain a natural grass.
      I don’t dispute that there are certain situations in which an artificial field might be an appropriate choice and I don’t disregard a coach’s preference. We also do not dispute that an artificial field could host more events each year, which could be beneficial in certain situations. I simply wanted to write this turf tip to provide some additional information about artificial turf fields that you are not likely to get from companies who supply these products. Please take a look at the references below for more information about synthetic athletic fields.
      Aaron Patton
      • Fouty, Amy. “A Sport Field Manager’s Perspective: Synthetic Turf Considerations, Maintenance Costs and Concerns” May 11, 2005 presentation at the Synthetic Turf Infill Seminar, Detroit, Michigan. Reviewed by Lynn Brakeman in “Experts Spell Out True Cost of Synthetic Turf Maintenance.” Athletic Turf News, May 24, 2005.
      • Adamson, C. 2008. Synthetic Turfgrass Costs Far Exceed Natural Grass Playing Fields. Available at:
      • Turfgrass Resource Center. 2008. Natural grass and artificial turf: Separating myths and facts. Available at:
      • National Football League Players Association. 2006. NFL layers playing surfaces opinion survey. Available at:
      • McNitt, A.S. 2005. Synthetic turf in the U.S.A. – trends and issues. International Turfgrass Society Research Journal 10:27-33.
      • Epstein, V. 2007. Texas football succumbs to virulent staph infection from turf. Available at:; Data compiled from the Texas Department of State Health Services,
      • Brakeman, L. 2004. Infill systems spark debate at STMA conference. Available at: .
      • Williams C.F., and G.E. Pulley. 2003. Synthetic surface heat studies. Available at: .
      • McNitt, A.S., D.M. Petrunak, and T.J. Serensits. 2008. Temperature amelioration of synthetic turf surfaces through irrigation. Acta Hort. 783:573-581, ISHS 2008.