Questions arise about quality of Montgomery County’s turf fields

WASHINGTON — A turf battle unfolding in California has raised questions about artificial turf fields installed in Montgomery County.

The county school system has been contacted by lawyers in California asking how artificial fields installed at three schools in 2009 and 2010 are holding up.

Attorneys Peter Lindborg and Irina Mazor, with Lindborg & Mazor LLP, represent California school districts in lawsuits alleging that artificial turf fields they bought from FieldTurf USA are falling apart and that FieldTurf USA knowingly installed an inferior product.

The suit involving Bret Harte Union High School District, Chaffey Joint Union High School District and Crystal Springs Upland School alleges FieldTurf misrepresented the quality of the turf and knew — or should have known — the product would fail.

“What you’re looking at is fibers that break, fibers that split, fibers that lay down and won’t get back up, so that you have a slick smooth surface” instead of a field with fibers that stand up like real grass, Lindborg says.

Further, Lindborg says, because of the splitting of the fibers, after a rain “you will have clumps of busted artificial turf looking like [mowed] grass on the edge of the field. Artificial turf doesn’t grow back, last time I checked.”

The product at the heart of the lawsuit is a turf field that features “Duraspline” also sold as “Prestige” or “Evolution.”

“FieldTurf is well aware of the issue with some earlier generation TenCate Duraspine fibers. We no longer use these fibers, have worked closely with our customers to resolve this issue when it has arisen and have always been dedicated to honoring our warranties and remediating any affected fields where appropriate,” Darren Gill, Vice President of Marketing, Innovation and Customer Service for FieldTurf, told WTOP in an emailed statement.

Last week, Lindborg and Mazor sent a letter to Montgomery County’s Department of Facilities Management asking about fields that were purchased between 2006 and 2012.

The school system purchased TurfField products for fields at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, and Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. The fields date back to 2009 and 2010.

WTOP contacted MCPS officials to ask about the condition of the fields and whether the school system has had problems with the fields. MCPS responded by saying the staffers who are familiar with the issue are out this week. The school system is on spring break.

Recently, six Montgomery County council members expressed concern about a separate issue on turf fields: whether they contained lead, and if so, whether that could pose hazards to kids playing on those fields.

Council members Marc Elrich, Nancy Navarro, Hans Riemer, Tom Hucker, Roger Berliner and George Leventhal signed a letter asking Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett to have county-owned artificial turf fields tested for chemicals used in such fields, including cadmium and chromium.

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