Not every parent agreed that artificial-turf fields are needed. Rod Kovel, a Merrick Avenue Middle School father, said he believes the district’s fields are in bad shape because “we don’t spend any money on maintaining them. If the field isn’t maintained, it looks terrible.”
He cited a study by Brad Fresenburg, of the University of Missouri Extension, that concluded that maintenance of an artificial-turf field can be “far costlier” than for a grass field, because synthetic-turf fields require constant cleansing to prevent staph infections. On natural-grass fields, saliva, blood and vomit soak into the ground, while such potentially infectious agents sit on a synthetic-turf field until it is cleaned. According to Fresenburg’s study, synthetic-turf fields can cost tens of thousands of dollars more per year than natural-grass fields when both the cost of the turf and maintenance are factored in.
Ted Tanenbaum, a former Central District Board of Education trustee, said the district must consider the cost of replacing artificial turf in eight to 15 years. Removing and installing a new carpet can cost up to $250,000 in the current market, he said.
Tanenbaum also said that artificial-turf fields can be 30 to 40 degrees hotter than grass fields in the sun, so the district would need a sprinkler system to keep the fields cool in late spring, summer and early fall. “They don’t naturally cool themselves in the heat,” he said.
Howard Finger, a 35-year Bellmore resident who had two children go through the Central District, suggested that the Board of Education separate the artificial-turf-fields proposal from the rest of the bond proposal and allow residents to vote on them separately.
Schwartz, the board president, said it was possible to separate the two, but she rejected the idea. “The board feels the fields are every bit as important” as the other projects in the bond, she said.
When they were built
The following are the years when the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District’s buildings were constructed:
n Mepham High School — 1936
n Merrick Avenue Middle School — 1953
n Jerusalem Avenue School — 1953
n Grand Avenue Middle School — 1957
n Calhoun High School — 1957
n Brookside School — 1957