Turf’s up! 911 Field-work is done

by Beth Melo on May 16, 2018

Post image for Turf’s up! 911 Field-work is done

Above: The re-surfacing of the only turf field in Southborough was completed this week. (photo by Beth Melo)

The long awaited re-turfing of 911 field is done! 

It’s a project that has been many moons in the making, with lots of moving obstacles. But Recreation is proud to announce that once the work began, things went smoothly – with a completion 2 weeks ahead of schedule:

The 911 Memorial Field renovation project is now complete, 2 weeks ahead of schedule and on budget. It is scheduled to open on time May 22, 2018 with a brand new turf surface. Opened in 2002, the 911 Field serves to honor Massachusetts residents who lost their lives on September 11.

In 2014, the Town of Southborough voted to fund the turf replacement, thereby allowing the funds to be paid back through field rental fees. Additional funding came from The Friends of Southborough Recreation ($10,000) and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care ($500).

In January 2015 Representative Carolyn Dykema and Senator Jamie Eldridge worked with Department of Conservation and Recreation, and filed legislation to increase the field lease from 5 to 15 years, which is required to have a 15 year bond. This involved the work of many community members, including Jim Hegarty, former Selectmen John Rooney and Selectmen Dan Kolenda, Town Administrator Mark Purple and former Recreation Commission Chair, Brian Shifrin and Commission member Sean Cronin. The legislation passed and a new lease was finalized in June 2017, immediately followed by a bidding process for field design and installation overseen by DPW Superintendent, Karen Galligan. The design was awarded to Pare Corporation and installation to RAD Sports.

During the construction phase, we were able to relocate many Southborough sports groups to other local fields, including Algonquin Regional High School, St. Marks School, Fay School, and the Town of Ashland.

The Recreation Commission is grateful for all that supported this project.

An opening ceremony will be held and will be publicized when plans are finalized.

You can look back at a history of the field through past blog coverage.

Because this is a Town field project, I know the question that some of you are asking, “What about Choate Field?” So, I checked in to confirm – yes, that project was completed and the lights are working at the field in front of Woodward School.

911 field parking closed (photo by Beth Melo)Updated (5/16/18 6:45 pm): I swung by tonight to snap the cover picture.

The parking lots were still closed off when I checked on the field tonight. But, since this isn’t a Town-owned field, it’s never meant to be a drop-in and play site. Use of the field is restricted and coordinated through Town Recreation. 

1 Donna mcdaniel May 16, 2018 at 9:08 PM

Great example of shared community effort…CONGRATS

2 Louise Barron May 17, 2018 at 10:55 AM

Beth What is the composition of the matter under the turf.

3 JOJAMA May 17, 2018 at 12:18 PM

Louise, You must be exhausted going from one hot topic to the next..We all know why you are asking about the composition of 9/11 field. Why don’t you cut to the chase and vent your issues Or better yet direct your question and frustrations to the correct people.

4 Concerned Voter May 17, 2018 at 2:38 PM

Sorry, here is one reader who doesn’t buy into your off color comment “we all know why you are asking . . . ”

At least Mrs. Barron cares, attends meetings, and reads the warrants. What’s the problem? Being informed??!!

Check it out JOJAMA:



Multiple issues on this matter, in my humble opinion, not the least of which is the composition of the materials (not properly vetted before purchase allegedly — and stupidly backwards before paying and installing!) The other main issue is one of capital investment in a field that ISN’T OWNED BY THE TOWN!

Thank you Mrs. Barron for caring about kids, their health — and whether or not they would be exposed to petroleum based particulate matter, the environment, costs, and the best interests of this town!

5 JOJAMA May 17, 2018 at 3:40 PM

I don’t consider my comments “off color” ,snarky maybe.. Thank you for all the links. I am very informed on the issues as well, that is why I asked Louise to cut to the chase. Why make Beth give her the answer she obviously already knows.

6 Concerned Voter May 17, 2018 at 6:20 PM

Sorry, but don’t think anyone knows the composition, as don’t think it was researched, studied, or disclosed before purchase and installation.

Would like to understand the composite materials better, as would, one would think, any parent whose children will play on that field.

If the materials contain petroleum based products or other questionable materials, generally speaking, those materials can degrade over time based on what I have read so far. Would like to know what the composite materials are. Thanks!

7 beth May 17, 2018 at 6:03 PM

I got part of the answer, but didn’t ask all of the right questions. So, now I’m waiting for more detail on the last two sentences of the description below:

The subsurface (which was the material under the original field turf and drainage mat) was shaped for storm water flow. Then an impervious sheet was laid over that so that storm water would hit the sheet and move to the edges. Washed stone was brought in and fine graded to create the base that the field is on (about 3” of material). The base lets the storm water move through it.

Then a pad was installed which helps channel the storm water and also reduces the g-force of impacts. Finally, the turf and its infill was installed.

8 beth May 17, 2018 at 7:07 PM

Filling in the final gaps – the infill was rubber, like the old field, and the pad is foam.

9 Concerned Voter May 17, 2018 at 9:53 PM

Like many people, followed this one loosely and periodically, not even realizing the whole picture until seeing huge stacks of astro turf piled up on the field, as well as hearing about the expenditures and the fact that the town doesn’t own the field via recent town meetings.

So not quite fair to the readers to imply above that the problem is lack of transparency. That isn’t the problem so much. This mischaracterizes the concerns expressed. The problem is the backwards nature of how a project like this gets going, materials procured, the project is managed, and materials installed. It is common sense and logic that the materials to be purchased are examined first for health and safety reasons, and THEN purchased and installed.

There is plenty of websites, new legislation, and other state information sources that explore the composite materials of artificial turf. Any reader concern expressed at this time is about asking legitimate health and business questions as to why these questions were not asked up front by those involved in the procurement process.

OK, so that said, do the composite materials have any petroleum based parts, such as rubber tire crumbs? Thank you.

10 beth May 18, 2018 at 7:31 AM

I already answered that the infill was rubber. If you want more detail beyond that, you should contact public works directly.

11 Louise Barron May 18, 2018 at 8:52 PM

The issue of health around the turf field did come up regarding the last T.M. If I had school age children, I certainly would listen, and do my own investigation around the health risks of dyed turf, and cancer related illnesses from the rubber crumbs that decompose to dust, that will inevitably occur, as it breaks down due to heat and use. It becomes much hotter than grass fields and must be watered often, more so than grass. Tires are made of chemicals. You figure it out. Do you want your kids inhaling or getting this toxic substance in their bodies. I’ve done my homework. Do yours.

12 Jojama May 21, 2018 at 11:36 AM

Just to close the loop. Referring back to my first post, if you want further information contact the DPW. The downward spiral of rudeness is just so typical of what is the new norm. Everyone else is stupid or ill-informed or doesn’t care as much as you!

13 Concerned Voter May 21, 2018 at 11:46 AM

WRONG. Not the taxpayer’s job to get these answers. It is the town’s legal obligation to provide this information in a public way or public meeting.

The issue is this: did the town look into the composite materials and potential health risks to children BEFORE making the purchase and installing the materials.

Your comments are rude. Parents DO CARE whether or not their children are exposed to risky products, petroleum based products, etc. Answers should be provided by the TOWN. That is THEIR job.

Thank you.

14 North Sider May 22, 2018 at 4:31 PM

Yes but Beth is not “the town”. This is a private blog. And JOJAMA never said a word about the kids and parental lack of caring, maybe you’re referring to Louise’s over the top claims of cancer in children? Perhaps she should be providing evidence of this?

15 Frank C. May 21, 2018 at 12:34 PM

“Concerned voter” clearly doesn’t get out from behind the computer much . Anyways the field looks great !

16 Concerned Voter May 21, 2018 at 1:33 PM

Got out enough to see that materials were installed — materials that apparently had little to no due diligence done, reported anyway by the town, on potential health risks to children.

Lots of cars look great until one looks under the hood. Did anyone with the Town examine the potential health risks and disclose them BEFORE purchasing and INSTALLING the materials? If so, please point it out on tape.

Clearly it is a curiosity as to why the full list / composition of the materials just isn’t produced and published. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? There should be NO problem in doing this. Not sure why this wouldn’t be done in a normal, proforma fashion.

17 beth May 21, 2018 at 2:12 PM

My point – and this is the last response I am going to give on this issue – is that (despite saying it’s not your job to ask questions) you have questions you want answered. But you are trying to use me as a proxy to ask your specific questions. I could already tell that if I asked your questions and got answers, you were not going to be satisfied and have more questions. Already, you’ve begun adding to your list of questions.

This isn’t a department that is inaccessible. You can ask your questions directly. And if you feel it is important to share with the public, and that others aren’t doing that, you can do that here. You are spending more energy griping via comments than it would take you to have a conversation or email directly yourself.

If you don’t care to do that, then don’t.

18 Concerned Voter May 21, 2018 at 4:24 PM

Not it at all.

Not griping. Making legitimate business and health / safety concerns.

Not using you as proxy at all. ZERO. You get answers as noted to many questions. If you choose not to on this matter, that is your prerogative.

Town officials read comments on this blog. Ms. Galligan and/or others are responsible for answering the questions posed. On the matter of basic due diligence (before purchase and installation) on health/safety/ potential risks of artificial turf, the TOWN CAN ANSWER THE QUESTIONS AS THAT IS THEIR TERRITORY.

May I remind you, the READERS are NOT the issue. THE TOWN provides the answers — it is not incumbent upon any reader to go seek out answers on standard due diligence. The due diligence is performed BEFORE buying the materials and discussed publicly. Again, the issue is the MATERIALS used in artificial turf and GETTING ANSWERS to what the potential health risks are to children. Period.


19 beth May 22, 2018 at 7:51 AM

Actually, my understanding is that Ms. Galligan doesn’t follow comments on the blog. That was why I told you to reach out to her.

20 southsider May 23, 2018 at 1:18 PM

The issue of what fill is used on artificial turf fields is an old and much researched and discussed one.
I doubt if any reputable party would be willfully installing materials that have been proven to be harmful. The lawsuits would never end and the business would disappear; and long before that any government issued license to do that type of work would be rescinded.
It’s highly doubtful to me that the town officials would accept bids from inexperienced and/or unlicensed providers.

21 beth May 17, 2018 at 7:03 PM

Everyone does have the right to be informed. And when there are questions about public health, certainly you have a right to ask questions. But, I’m curious about the timing.

But the fact is that the Town has been very publicly working on this project for four years. Over that time, I’ve written at least 15 posts. The project went through two Town Meeting approvals, publicly solicited community support through letters to legislators, went to the state legislature for approval of the long term lease involved. I’ve even written about the work going out to bid and then the start of construction.

There were countless opportunities to raise questions directly with the town or even anonymously through the blog before this. I don’t believe it’s fair to those involved to wait until it is complete and then imply that the project wasn’t transparent.

22 Lou C May 17, 2018 at 8:31 PM

Well said Beth. If as ‘Concerned Voter’ says, ‘Mrs. Barron cares, attends meetings, and reads the warrants’ they she should be truly ‘informed’ and not need to posit the question here since she would already know the answer.

23 Concerned Voter May 18, 2018 at 9:14 AM

Nonsense. Couldn’t disagree more. (Unless she went and got samples and had them tested!) The only way to know would be to ask the seller and manufacturer what the composite materials are.

With all due respect, this isn’t personal — its business and good business sense to ask about potential health risks (if any, because some materials are “green”) up front before the materials are purchased. This would be standard “due diligence” in the procurement and project management process.

These are legitimate business, health, economic, and common sense questions. This is not personal. So what are the answers? Any help in getting to the answers asked is appreciated. Thank you.

24 Looking Forward May 18, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Concerned Voter- it is very easy to come in after the fact with all kinds of questions and concerns. If you are really that interested, go out and find the answers instead of just posting here despite Beth answering everything so far. If you are not satisfied with her answer, go out and do your own leg work. Or ask a better question. Do you know that these questions and issues were not looked into when this project went through the planning and procurement stage? The questions are certainly relevant, bit the project is complete. Asking all of this ex-post is really not helpful or productive.
Enough hindsight and Monday morning vision.

25 Concerned Voter May 18, 2018 at 4:33 PM

Dear Looking Forward — why are your questions so BACKWARDS?
Your comments about “helpful or productive” is stupidly dismissive of the substantive, relevant points: many voters, including myself, did not fully realize what was happening at this field (what an investment in a field we DO NOT OWN?!) until it stacked high with materials (that we paid for, BTW). Do the health risks posed by artificial turf simply get ignored because someone didn’t ask up front what they were purchasing? Buyers can look at a cereal box for ingredients or a clothing tag for the composition of clothing — it is regulated by law. We are talking about the health and safety of children.

It’s VERY SIMPLE: Ms. Galligan — can you please provide Beth with a list of the composite materials for the artificial turf that was installed? Do the materials contain any petroleum based products or tire crumbs?

“LOOKING FORWARD” to the answers. Thank you.

26 beth May 21, 2018 at 8:50 AM

If you want more details from Ms. Galligan, you need to contact her directly. You can email her directly at KGalligan@southboroughma.com.

27 North Sider May 22, 2018 at 4:34 PM

You want answers handed to you on a silver platter rather than bothering to seek them out yourself.

28 Concerned Voter May 21, 2018 at 9:28 AM

No — the citizen / taxpayers have the right to know and have it published right here. While we appreciate this public forum, it seems a bit unbalanced and unfair that your “editors” — town officials — are solicited for answers on other matters and not on this topic.

Again, the taxpayers have a right to know what exactly they paid for. It is not my or any citizens responsibility to check on this. It is the LEGAL RESPONSIBLITY of the TOWN and the person in the procurement / management chain to check on the any potential health ramifications BEFORE BUYING and reporting any potential risk UP FRONT before any buying took place.

Thank you.

29 beth May 21, 2018 at 9:54 AM

“No.”?! Excuse me?

I’m not anyone’s beck and call girl. I did solicit answers for you on this matter. I went back and forth in emails. But the answers I got weren’t good enough for you. If you want to ask questions in your specific way and get your specific answers, you need to follow through for yourself.

Town officials are not my “editors”. I generally think of the community that way – but only within reason. You clearly have an ax to grind whenever I don’t write things exactly the way you see them.

Perhaps, you should start your own blog. But, if you do, you’ll find that it’s not as easy as it looks.

In the meantime, if you do follow up – you are free to share what you learn here. (You’re even able to submit a letter to the editor if you are willing to provide your identity.)

Finally, ending a post with “Thank you” doesn’t erase the rudeness of what is written before that.

30 Concerned Voter May 21, 2018 at 11:36 AM

“No” — means it is not MY job (or any taxpayer’s job) as ASKED BY YOU BTW, to go get answers to questions that are the LEGAL OBLIGATION of the TOWN to get and provide to the town.

Not intended to be rude at all.

That said, this morning on this blog you go get answers on other matters, so unclear why you are not providing answers on this one. The answers so far simply do not answer the questions on composition and potential health risks.
The answers provided so far to your inquiries are like saying a car is made of metal.

This matter is a SIMPLE one. The TOWN needs to state publicly what the composite materials are — it’s like looking on the back of a cereal box for ingredients before purchasing and feeding your children.
Thank you.

31 Troll Hunter May 23, 2018 at 9:44 AM

Don’t feed the trolls.

32 North Sider May 23, 2018 at 6:09 PM

I’m baffled by your posts. Baffled. It’s not your job, no. It’s also not Beth’s job! She does this on her own time. She asked you to seek what you want, because you are likely an adult who has those capabilities. Sigh. Why do we bother . . .

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