Fujitani Field finished ahead of schedule

Contractor Shaw Sports Turf has completed work on the new organic artificial turf surface at Wilton High School’s Fujitani Field a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.

“I just signed off on it this morning,” said Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

“It means we don’t have to rush and our teams can get out there right on time,” said Chris McDougal, athletic director at Wilton High School.

“We inspected it and it looks phenomenal,” McDougal said.

The turf is artificial, but at the same time, from an organic source, coconut fiber. This avoids the injury risks and potential cancer risks of artificial turf fields based on crumb rubber, Pierce said.

It was paid for with a $650,000 municipal bond approved by voters.

The material is becoming popular.

“Other fields are starting to copy us,” McDougal said.

The former artificial turf at Veterans Stadium had aged and was ready for replacement. The benefits of the new coconut-based turf include the new shock pad running under the surface, and a 25% reduction in field-related concussions because of the new material, Pierce said.

“The field is good for contact sports,” he said, “good for field hockey and lacrosse.”

Another advantage, over natural grass, is that natural turf is good for 15 hours of play a week before it shows wear. This coconut-based turf can stand up to constant use, but will be used seven hours a day.

The infill is 96% coconut husk, and the remaining 4% is a combination of a very small amount of cork and corn husk.

In addition to environmental concerns, some have argued that crumb rubber gets too hot too fast. It is argued that athletes have burned their skin by coming into contact with the crumb rubber  material on hot days.

To support maintenance costs of the new field, Selectman David Clune proposed last month the possibility of selling advertising at the stadium. Clune looked to neighboring town Ridgefield, which already sells ads at its stadium, as a model.

Ridgefield athletic officials did not return phone calls seeking comment on the ad sales program.