Dec 10 2014

Student Report: Council Approves Lift at Arts Center, New Turf at Beach Field,

The following is a report by Piedmont High School student Joe Cumberlich on his observations of the Dec. 1, 2014 Piedmont City Council meeting.

On the night of December 1, 2014, I attended the Piedmont City Council meeting at the Piedmont City Hall on Vista Avenue. These meetings are held every other week throughout the year. Mayor Margaret Fujioka sits in the middle of the council members and leads the debates and motions for actions. In this specific meeting, representatives from the Piedmont Unified School District, and the Turkey Trot thanked the council for cooperation in their respective fundraising efforts.

The first topic that was extensively debated was agenda item number five, the consideration of an amendment to the use agreement with the Piedmont Center for the Arts to facilitate the installation of a disabled lift in the East Wing of the City’s building. This topic was clearly a priority of the City Council because the state requires wheelchair access in all buildings of this type. The issue of the lifts actual installation was the insurance costs brought on by the City, as well as the question of the quality of the lift itself. City Administrator Paul Benoit stressed the importance of the lift, as well as the quality of the lift itself. His points about quality were confirmed by Chester Nakahara the Director of Public Works for the City. The motion to purchase the lift passed and the Council decided to look at insurance at the end of the fiscal year.

Seventh on the agenda was a motion for the consideration of the award of the Linda Beach Field turf replacement project to Fieldturf USA in the amount of $222,204 and authorize the overall construction budget of $265,534. This conversation was obviously a great concern of Vice Mayor Jeffrey Wieler who extensively asked Fieldturf USA representative Andrew Reley about the safety of the materials, and the performance they have as both a playing surface and draining ability. I spoke on this topic because I’m an experienced user of field turf for various sporting events.

The proposed turf is made up of plastic grass and filled in with a mix of cork and sand. This mix is called ‘pure fill’ and is much more expensive than the traditional ‘crushed tire’ fill used at Witter Field. The City’s reasoning for this expense is the potential danger ‘crushed tire’ can have if consumed. Now a person would need to consume several cubic feet of the stuff for a lethal dose. Never the less the parents of small children will be fearful and will complain, making this a worthwhile expense for the City.

USA Fieldturf rep Andrew Reley explained his company’s success with their product, having installed thousands of fields globally. From elementary schools like Beach, to NFL and Pro Soccer fields.  I caught up with him after the meeting.

Me: Why were you at this meeting? What difficulties and problems brought you here?

Andrew: I was here to answer any questions for the City Council on the proposed turf at Beach Field.

Me: What’s the next step for this issue?

Andrew: Going forward we need to meet the needs of the community with prices that meet the budget of the City.

By Joe Cumberlich

Editors’ Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

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