Memo for fiscal year 2017, updated 2016-03-30

[Archived] What is the financial impact on the Athletic Fields Improvement Capital Program if the City were to transition to natural infill alternatives for our artificial turf installations?

The nine artificial turf fields maintained by the City of Alexandria and Alexandria City Public Schools utilize crumb rubber infill. Transitioning one full-sized field to an infill alternative is estimated to cost $100,000 for the initial installation, plus an operating impact of $50,000 per year for maintenance, annual replenishment, and replenishment after weather events. For comparison purposes, installation of a crumb rubber infill costs approximately $55,000 - $60,000 for a full-sized field, and has a maintenance cost of $18,000 - $19,000 per year.

Options for organic infill material include cork, coconut husk and sand products. Literature also identifies options with the crumb rubber ranging from manmade to encapsulated material. Each material has unique qualities that will affect compaction ratings, heat generation/retention, life span and maintenance needs.

The costs associated with transitioning to infill alternatives would require additional funds in the Athletic Fields Improvement Program to implement the projects currently planned for FY 2017-FY 2021, and the increased maintenance costs would require additional annual funding in the operating budget. The cost may vary based on the type of infill material, which ranges from organic cork, coconut, or rice husks to recyclable thermoplastic infill. To date, alternative infill materials have not been studied or tested for long-term durability, safety, health impacts, environmental impacts, or maintenance impacts.

In September, the Alexandria Health Department released a review of crumb rubber in synthetic turf playing fields in which the research found no definitive link between crumb rubber infill material and health problems. A link to the review is included here:

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