Ministry claims safety risk, turf makers disagree

| 19/07/2018 | 47 Comments
Cayman News Service

Edna Moyle Primary School playing field

(CNS): The manufacturers of the artificial turf that was donated to the Edna Moyle Primary School in North Side by a parent have said that although it was designed for indoors, it would be perfectly safe to use outside, with the only risk being that it may fade in the sun. The ministry has nevertheless doubled down on claims made by Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who insisted that there is a health and safety risk to laying the turf, thwarting the district MLA’s efforts to get a safe play area for the students at the school.

In response to a press conference that Ezzard Miller held this week, where he set out the saga of efforts by him and the school’s PTA to surface the school field, officials repeated the essence of a letter sent by Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly to Miller on 13 July (see it in the CNS Library).

The officials maintained that the artificial turf would not drain properly and that they had been advised the material would become white and chalky, potentially leading to health and safety concerns for the students.

“While there may be ways to mitigate the drainage issues in the short-term, health and safety of our students is of utmost importance and we would not want to run the risk of the potential mitigation strategies failing based on what the company has stated. This could also lead to additional costs of having to remove the turf shortly after it would have been installed,” the ministry said, and again claimed there was no money in the education budget to do the additional work.

If the port fees could be waived, Miller said he would only need around $25,000 to complete the project and finally give the children a safe area to play. The North Side representative has pointed out that although the pitch is designed for indoors, it is not a health risk and would be far safer than the current scrub field.

Miller contacted the manufacturers last week, following up on previous communication they had had with the Public Works Department after they sought a way to address the drainage issue. David Norton, the senior project manager at Shaw Sports Turf, made it clear that there were no health and safety issues. “It’s just an aesthetic issue, no safety or performance concern,” the expert stated.

Miller has said that the government is throwing up health and safety issues as an excuse, which is all the more frustrating because the current situation presents a far more obvious health and safety risk. He noted that the kids are already slipping and falling on the field, which is what is fuelling the PTA concerns.

He said that before the minister’s about-face last week, at no time during the previous two months had the safety of the pitch been questioned. He said that the issues that were raised had been addressed by the manufacturer when they spoke with the PWD, which had created plans to accommodate any drainage issues. Miller pointed out that no matter what surface was laid on the current ground, it would still need grading and drainage work because of the land’s propensity for flooding.

With the ministry sticking to its position that there is a health and safety issue, Miller said he is still hoping to meet with the minister because she had been misinformed.

“At this point, the PTA and I would welcome a reconsideration by the minister once she is afforded a clearer understanding of the details that apparently have not been conveyed fully to her,” he said, stating his continued determination to get the pitch laid over the summer because of the obvious inequity facing the children in North Side, who do not have a safe playing area.

In the ministry’s short statement Wednesday, however, the issue of the budget was raised again, and although the minister appropriated an additional $10 million for her land portfolio in a special sitting of Finance Committee at the beginning of this month, she seems reluctant to find the few thousand dollars to deal with this issue.

“This was not a project that was budgeted for in 2018 or 2019. In developing the budget a range of capital projects are considered for schools and the Ministry aims to ensure equity across all the government schools,” the ministry stated. “A draft plan for field work at the Edna M. Moyle Primary School was developed in consultation with Public Works. The Ministry team will review these plans and consider potential options for the future, again keeping in mind that this work is not included in the current budget,” officials added.

 See the manufacturers emails in the CNS Library

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Comments (47)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    why all this palaver about this field……….it needs to be taken care of for the children’s sake and for their safety as they play outside, For heaven’s sake get on with it. the summer will pass soon and the children need a safe playground.

  2. Anonymous says:

    1.3 million on boardwalk and cant even fix playing field…bloody shame!!!????

  3. Anonymous says:

    The amazing part of this is how nobody commenting has recognized the correlation between the absence of safe community sports facilities and the article right above this one with Michael Myles.

    If you want more crime, feel free to continue complaining on cns or social media, or ignoring the problem in Government.

    If you do not want more crime, residents of North Side and East End, put a petition together and march on Government house. Let the wealthy tourists on the 7-mile corridor see you all in action, and perhaps Mr. Dart will throw in the money to fix your field.

  4. N.S. Parent says:

    My child has asthma and will not be rolling around on Ezzards mouldy mat. We will take our chances with the rocks, it was good enough for us when we were in school. Maybe the generous parent should invest in some bubble wrap instead?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ignorant comment. If the field is not properly graded and drainage installed then anything put down will get mouldy regardless of what it is or who puts it down. Besides Ezzard is trying to get money to prevent the turf from getting mouldy.

      • Anonymous says:

        You clearly lack the most basic of comprehension skills. Turf made to be used indoors will not allow water through it. Grade away all you want. This whole exercise would be a pointless waste of time and money. Dr Horter comes to mind.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, 4:34 pm, but if graded properly the laws of gravity and our trusty ever present sunshine will take care of the issue.

    • Anonymous says:

      On the mould issue, this article gives an unbiased report:

      The bottom line is that grading apparently would take care of potential for mould. Also, as the article says, if you want to know if mould could become an issue with improper grading, check the current field. The current ungraded field is vulnerable to mould regardless of the covering, even grass.

      The ray of sunshine is that sunlight, which we have in abundance, and the openness of the field sans shade, will likely inhibit formation of mould.

      The PTA should avoid planting shades trees on the periphery of the field.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile they are spending 1.3 million on the south sound boardwalk to make the wealthy more happy, cause Cay Gov are more interested in pleasing the wealthy foreigners rather than help Caymanians. These ministers have lost empathy or the ability to seemingly feel remorse for their people in need. The love of money is their hearts content.

    • Say it like it is says:

      10.17am You are absolutely correct in that the boardwalk will primarily benefit local area residents and make their already expensive homes even more valuable. Forget this artificial grass, the North Side Primary student should have had an all weather, landscaped playing field years ago. I suggest the Minister diverts some of the $10 million just allocated for beach purchase to this far more important cause and ceases her attempts to find excuses for doing nothing.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I love the title of this article.. “Ministry claims safety risk, turf makers disagree”. So now the ministry knows more about the turf than those who make it? When did they get so proficient on artificial turf? We have some truly talented people working for our common good. We Caymanians should be prosperous and best in the world with such amazing people working for us.. Yep, any day now.. uh huh.. almost there… yep…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Seriously people! Re-read the article.. the whole thing.. SLOWLY.. TWICE IF NEEDED! Get Mommy or Daddy to help with the big words.

    1) Turf bought and donated by a PRIVATE CITIZEN.. not Miller or the Government. Someone had gotten fed up enough of the deplorable condition of the field and lackadaisical attitude of those who are supposed to help, the same field that Juju should be fixing to begin with and decided to take action.

    “(CNS): The manufacturers of the artificial turf that was donated to the Edna Moyle Primary School in North Side by a –>PARENT<–" – First line people.. first line of the article.

    2) The field already floods, grading and drainage would be needed REGARDLESS! Did you not see the picture at the top of the article? Or READ THE ARTICLE?

    "Miller pointed out that no matter what surface was laid on the current ground, it would still need grading and drainage work because of the land’s propensity for flooding."

    3) The turf CAN be used outside.

    "(CNS): The manufacturers of the artificial turf that was donated to the Edna Moyle Primary School in North Side by a parent have said that although it was designed for indoors, it would be perfectly safe to use outside, with the only risk being that it may fade in the sun." – AGAIN!!!!! FIRST LINE OF THE ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    "Miller contacted the manufacturers last week, following up on previous communication they had had with the Public Works Department after they sought a way to address the drainage issue. David Norton, the senior project manager at Shaw Sports Turf, made it clear that there were no health and safety issues. “It’s just an aesthetic issue, no safety or performance concern,” the expert stated."

    I read some of the posts and I shake my head wondering how/why people are posting what they are. Seriously I think Juju feels that she had her toes stepped on by a parent who decided to do something about the condition of the field and that is why she is being so hoggish about the whole thing. This has nothing to do with spending a small bit of funds on a school field, this is her being told what to do in HER self imagined kingdom by the peasants.

    There was one poster who mentioned something about the parent getting rakes and chipping in $10 to fix the issue.. The parents.. well 1 parent has done more in this instance than Juju. The least she can do is meet them halfway and fix an issue that will need to be fixed for whatever solution is determined. As easy as it will be to lay the turn, it will come up as easy when the time comes.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am surprised that the manufacturers didn’t tell Ezzard that outdoor turf is for outdoor and inside turf is for indoors. If indoor turf is used outdoor it won’t be able to drain properly and mould will build up underneath. It’s not rocket science!

    • Anonymous says:

      They said it was safe for outside and before anything could be put down the field still needed grading and drainage anyway so that money will still be spend. XXXXX She can beg for 10M but can’t spare 25,000 for the children? Shame.

    • Anonymous says:

      6:52: two words: grading=drainage.

  9. PD says:

    This is more of the good old Cayman lazy as& attitude. This minister could care less about any of the kids or parents, as long as she has her big check for no work then she is happy. They need to can her and the rest of the bureaucrats sitting in the ac twiddling there thumbs waiting till quitting time. Utter disgrace.

    • Anonymous says:

      If they cared it would be fixed long time. I guess the EMPS students will have to go to the $6million school gym in GT if they want to play safely.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why piss on each other? Just fix the playground! It is a disgrace, and dangerous. Instead of screwing around with Smith Cove, which is already naturally perfect, spend the money on this much needed project.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Can you imagine a PAC hearing to investigate why the Government spent thousands of dollars installing a turf made for inside use outside near the sea. Knowing full well that not only was it a health risk but that it would only last a couple of years . Even Bernie could see that as a debacle.

    Thank you Minister and civil service. Finally we have leaders that are willing to stand up and do the right thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      So not securing a safe place for children to play is the right thing? Wow.. hate to be your kids.

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      Standing up and doing the right thing – completely ignoring the underlying problem that the field is currently not fit for purposes and even dangerous and concentrating on what is wrong with Ezzard and the parents attempted solution. Doing the right thing would be fixing the issue – but these kids have the misfortune to be in Ezzards constituency so no funds for that, no siree. Using kids as political ammunition – sounds like standing up and doing the right thing – not.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Children and education are near the BOTTOM of the priority list for the elected Government. Julianna has the least to account for, she has had education for 14 months. Tara had it for 4 years. Rolston for 4 yeara. Alden for 4 years. Still as a former PE teacher Julie could pretend to care

    Rsults are not a priority for the Civil Service. .

    The issue isn’t why someone bought indoor turf, the issue is why did successive education Ministers and Chief Officers fail to provide a sports field for a primary school?

    Soon every public school PTA will be asking for funds for school supplies. How pathetic.

    Even if the education Ministry doesn’t have the money, take some from the port project and grom the travel budget for the Civil Service and Authorities if this was the Brac Moses and Julianna would make sure it was done.

    Fix it.
    In 2018.
    No excuses.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I guess there is nothing more concerning on this island…Crime? Garbage Collection? Dump? People losing there homes? Poverty? Perverts? Traffic Congestion? Corrupt Government? Illegal Immigration? Drug Smuggling? Really…This is where the priorities are…WOW. Why don’t the parents of the children who go to this school each chip in $10, buy some grass seed and spend a weekend with some rakes. Lazy.

    • Anonymous says:

      @5:47 Have you ever tried to grade and create drainage for a field that size? By your post I’d say no. Why don’t you try it and see if a weekend and chipping in $10 will solve it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most of the problems you have emerge from poor education in combination with social disfunction. The field is the answer to an incredible degree of huge aspects of both.

  14. Debbie does Dullards says:

    No problem. Just reposition the turf at an angle. Put sinkaway drainage areas at edge of playing field. Gravity still works and always will.
    Why is this such a big deal?
    Rains will come and the ground underneath will move a bit.
    Gravel underneath the fake turf that is rolled will solidify and will make it perfect for the sod or fake astroturf on top.
    Remember folks to put things at an angle. This is the same reason most roofs are not flat. They are failures. Roofs are pitched mostly to shed rain, snow, etc.

  15. Anonymous says:

    There is fake grass at BTPS, and I think Savannah Primary….why is this different? Wouldst the issue be to grade the land to ensure there is no standing water. Shouldn’t Juju be good at making sure the land is properly prepared….

    • Rocket scientist says:

      I guess because fake grass is for outside and indoor turf is for indoor. Also if the turf cannot drain there is the risk of mould buildup which is real health issue. However the Minister could have included the cost to do over the field in the budget or wherever she got funding to buy up the pieces of beach land announced recently.

      • Anonymous says:

        @Rocket scientist – If the field floods to begin with then ANY solution will risk developing mould. Guess the rockets you built are the ones that go up 10 feet and then fall and explode.

    • Anonymous says:

      The issue is clearly where it came from, i.e. a donation from a parent. Government clearly cannot stand anyone pissing on their chips, inferring any sort of inadequacy and most of all denying them the right to put out a beloved tender that can be bid up to a sky high price and won by one of their favoured contractors ….
      Move along, nothing to see here.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I bet you if that was a school in the Brac, or better yet, a private driveway in the Brac, the Minister would not have had the same attitude towards fixing the issue. You just do not say this cannot work and not offer an alternate solution. It shows her efforts were solely put into dismissing the need for a new pitch. Why is she still in Government, has she paid back the funds she used to pave her voter’s driveway?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard tell Ju Ju to find the mony in the same way she found the money to pave private driveways in Cayman Brac when she was a Minister in Mac’s UDP government.????????

    • Anonymous says:

      Most posters are not surprisingly missing the point. who buys indoor turf for outside use ?

      I’m sure the posters here would be ridiculing the Government if they did such a foolish thing .

      • Anonymous says:

        The MANUFACTURER said the only difference is the pad, THEY stated there is no safety or performance concern if used outside. At this point anything is better than nothing and a private citizen bought the turf not the government.

      • Anonymous says:

        9:17 pm: your either/or approach indicates you missed the details that would help you to grasp the points that would inform your conclusion.

  18. Pray for the wicked says:

    Nobody in the ministry of education can be trusted or taken at their word from the Minister to Chief Officer to Deputy on down to the department. Egos, laziness, stubbornness, incompetence and protection from the DG has empowered the civil servants to do as they please with no consequences. While Juju even as minister of education and lands doesn’t care about any district if it isn’t in the Brac. It is the perfect combination of lots of talk with no actions.
    Disgraceful what the Unity government are doing in districts that are represented by Ezzard, Arden, Anthony, Alva, Chris and KB. Juju claims to be a christian yet is comfortable to harm the interests and well being of their own fellow caymanians by playing politics.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pray! stop attacking caymanians. Stop being jealous of our dear civil servants who have made Cayman the paradise it is. Pray that you will be cleansed of your wicked thoughts.

  19. Anonymous says:

    On what basis does the government claim there are safety risks with placing this particular turf outside, where is the evidence that supports that claim, where are the examples that support the government’s narrative
    Because it seems highly convenient that they had this defence ready to fall back on

    • Anonymous says:

      Well where is Ezzard’s evidence that it won’t be hazardous to health and safety?! Why hasn’t he released that to us hmmmmmmm.

      • Anonymous says:

        “David Norton, the senior project manager at Shaw Sports Turf, made it clear that there were no health and safety issues. “It’s just an aesthetic issue, no safety or performance concern,” the expert stated.”

        Learn to read moron.

      • Anonymous says:

        6:14 pm: Milker did release it and it has been reported in several articles. You missed it.

    • Rocket scientist says:

      Maybe they researched !

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