The student news site of A. C. Reynolds High School.

Cedar Cliff News

City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

Ryan Smoot, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The sounds and sights of the John B. Lewis soccer complex consists of soccer balls ricocheting off goalposts, children laughing, and a huddled group of soccer moms looking on from the sidelines. While it’s quite a vivacious scene, the turf beneath it all is deteriorating rapidly. Thus, in a few weeks, the goalposts will be replaced by dump trucks, and the children will be swapped for construction workers.

 

Asheville City Council recently approved a $2.2 million proposal to completely replace the turf at JBL. It is not a cheap undertaking, as Asheville-Buncombe Youth Soccer Association (ABYSA) has pledged to contribute $1.1 million to the project, while Asheville City is funding $942,565 in construction costs.

 

The existing turf at JBL was constructed in 2005, with a lifespan of just 10 years. The field’s G-Max levels — a measurement used to assess surface hardness and impact — are skyrocketing, despite ABYSA efforts to instill temporary turf infill last summer. Parks and Recreation Director, Roderick Simmons, pointed to the G-Max levels as “a real threat to player safety, and were a primary reason [the city] decided to move forward with the proposal.”

 

Yet G-Max measurements are not required to identify the wear-and-tear of the current fields. To Reynolds senior, and ABYSA player, Ben Debo “it’s like playing on concrete”.

 

Indeed, besides the turf being expired, constant floods from the nearby Swannanoa River are exacerbating the conditions. “Our turf drainage system is so poor that rain and flooding has forced us to frequently cancel matches,” said the Executive Director of ABYSA, Mike Rottjakob. He added that the turf quality is worsening by the week, “fibers are falling out so quickly…it’s like we’re an old man going bald.” The approved proposal detailed plans for renovating the stormwater drainage system of the fields, as well as using a new turf infill mixture to improve endurance.

 

Rottjakob also added that the construction will not impede ABYSA tryouts or the current recreation-league season, as the turf replacement will be staggered, thus always allowing the availability of two fields.

 

While the investment in the new turf is mostly a response to safety concerns, it’s also a harbinger of a wider trend undertaking Asheville. “Parks across the city are going to really improve over the next 7 years,” stated Roderick Simmons, referring to a $17 million bond that funds the Parks and Rec department until 2024.

 

“The city continues to invest in city parks and rec amenities and facilities,” said Mayor Esther Manheimer. “This means fixing up the city swimming pools, improving baseball fields, building new greenways and much more.”

—-

Yet this particular turf investment has not been without controversy. The crumb rubber turf infill, composed of recycled tires, has recently came under investigation by the EPA for cancer links, though studies are predicted to take at least a few years to find any conclusive evidence.

 

“All the evidence we currently have points to [crumb rubber] not being cancerous,” said Rottjakob, noting the support of the Asheville Public Safety Committee, who reached a similar conclusion in March.

 

Still, the available studies are limited, and local parents’ worries have yet to ebb away.  As the parent of a 12-year old soccer player, and founder of the “No More Toxic Turf” campaign, Francine Cavanaugh decided to pull her son out of ABYSA soccer.

 

“It’s not fair I have to make that decision to pull him out of something he loves to do, because I’m concerned for good reason,” said Cavanaugh.

 

Amid such uncertainty, cities across the country — such as Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York City, have switched to using organic infill as a healthier alternative. However, for JBL, organic infill was not a feasible option due to the flood risk.

 

Replacing the outdated turf at John B. Lewis certainly improves short-term player safety, but only hindsight can truly assess the health consequences of this measure.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    News

    The Philosophy of an Apple

  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    News

    Politically Active Teens

  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    Opinion

    Modern Mormonism

  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    News

    To Bee, or Not to Bee

  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    Arts and Entertainment

    Summer Recipes!

  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    Arts and Entertainment

    Art School Budget

  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    Arts and Entertainment

    Travel on a budget

  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    News

    North Carolina #1 in ISS Rates

  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    Features

    Teacher spotlight: Mrs.Brown

  • City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns

    News

    Asheville’s Heroin Epidemic

The student news site of A. C. Reynolds High School.
City Council Approves JBL Turf Investment, Amid Cancer Concerns