The Bloomberg administration is spending $2.2 million to replace a Chelsea athletic field -- 12 years after the site spurred a safety debate by sporting the city park system's first artificial-turf playing surface, according to the New York Post.
The Astroturf-style carpet at Chelsea Park, on West 27th Street and 10th Avenue, will be replaced with a state-of-the-art, 50,000-square-foot field made from synthetic rubber.
Health inspectors testing for lead found the field worn out from years of heavy use. The new field is expected to be completed by spring.
Records show that one of five dust samples from the park exceeded federal safety standards for lead. But Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh says the levels are so low as to pose no harm to regular users. The turf, he insists, is being replaced solely because it has surpassed its 10-year expected life span.
This is one of the heaviest-used fields in the city – there’s few like it on the West Side [of Manhattan]," he said.
But Geoffrey Croft of the watchdog group New York City Park Advocates ripped the city for "re-carpeting" the field. He estimated the city is paying twice as much by not using grass and is leaving the public open to potential "health and environmental issues" associated with synthetic turf.
Since Chelsea Park added artificial turf in 1998, the city has quickly grown into the largest municipal buyer of turf in America – adding more than 140 synthetic fields throughout its park system, according to the Independent Budget Office.
In the process, these artificial fields have become battlegrounds.