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Council joins turf debate

City, school officials get an update on how projects for new athletic fields are going, and material remains an issue.

September 10, 2008|By Jeremy Oberstein

BURBANK — The City Council, during a joint meeting with the Burbank Unified School District Board, received a status report from construction officials Tuesday for three schools whose aging athletic fields and parking lots are the focus of ongoing refurbishment efforts.

The scope of work for Jordan Middle School, and Burbank and John Burroughs high schools, includes new landscaping and irrigation measures, Americans with Disabilities Act-approved parking lots and ramps, and new men’s and women’s restrooms.

A portion of Tuesday’s session was devoted to the controversial material that officials are slated to use for each high school’s athletic fields, which has been the focus of recent lawsuits alleging that three of the nation’s top turf manufacturers violated California’s Proposition 65 environmental law by knowingly failing to disclose that their products contain lead.

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California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown filed the lawsuit Sept. 2 against Beaulieu Group, AstroTurf and FieldTurf USA Inc., the Florida-based company charged with laying the green plastic playing fields at Burbank and Burroughs high schools.

FieldTurf officials said Tuesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission gave the material a clean bill of health.

“The fields we’re installing now in Burbank are classified as lead-free,” said Tim Coury, who has overseen more than 250 FieldTurf projects in Southern California.

“The fields we have installed up until a few months back have minimal amounts of lead. They don’t pose a risk to kids who play on them.”

The turf to be installed in Burbank contains “trace amounts of lead” but does not pose a safety risk, he said.

“There is no such thing as ‘no lead’ turf,” Coury said. “It’s absolutely not a safety issue.

“The attorney general stated the fields are not unsafe.”

FieldTurf was selected by city officials for its relative strength as a company that supplies synthetic turf fields to hundreds of professional and amateur sports teams and schools, City Manager Mary Alvord said.

“They weren’t just selected out of a hat,” she said. “We were looking at someone to provide us with stability, warranty and a proven track record. They have a quality product.”

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