BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. Briarcliff school district officials have decided to take further samples of the soil and groundwater at two athletic fields in the high school/middle school complex before authorizing a long-term safety fix.
The board of education met with environmental counsel in executive session Monday night prior to its regular public meeting. Superintendent Neal Miller reported it was mutually agreed upon to take precautionary measures, instead of approving an action plan.
"It's a matter of great importance to us. We want to get this right," Miller said. "It will be forthcoming. We are absolutely on this."
The softball field and practice field in the back and front of the complex were contaminated in 1998 when a trucking company deposited 100,000 cubic yards of fill in the fields that did not meet New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) requirements. DEC inspectors found the fields to be contaminated with "non-exempt" material in 1999 and issued a violation to the school district.
The district started cleaning up and sampling the fields but further remediation ceased in 2004 when the board of education opted not to fund additional probing. Instead, the board decided to deposit additional fill on the fields and cover up monitoring wells.
A few months ago, a landscape architect estimated the cost for remediating the two playing surfaces ranged from $1.45 million if they were capped and restored with natural grass, to $3.65 million if they are capped and replaced with synthetic turf, to $18 million if the fill is removed and the fields are restored with natural grass.
A risk analysis for exposure to toxic materials on the fields conducted by an environmental engineer determined it was between an unacceptable range that required action and a safe range where no action was needed.
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