NEW CANAAN — Strides continue to be made toward the replacement of Dunning Stadium’s 11-year-old turf surface.

At last week’s Town Council meeting, New Canaan High School Athletic Director Jay Egan outlined the school’s different options for replacing the turf, which is a year past its life-expectancy, according to Egan.

“We see some signs of failure,” Egan said, pointing to seams beginning to come apart, glue coming loose because of exposure to ultraviolet rays and fibers coming up as the field is brushed.

Among issues to consider are the type and weight of infill for the field, the pile height of the carpet and Gmax testing.

“The Gmax is the shock absorbency of any particular surface. A muddy field will Gmax at 85. A brand new field will Gmax at 120 or 125,” Egan said. Currently, Dunning Stadium comes in at 135, which is still very playable, but will only become harder with time.

Egan cited ambient and cryogenic rubber as the two primary options. The former comes from tires recycled at a normal temperature and can contain more impurities than the latter, which comes from recycled tires frozen and then ground up, making for more evenly shaped infill and a smoother surface.

Cryogenic rubber is the more expensive of the two, but it can also be safer and better for playability. Above the layer of rubber, Egan requested cork top-dressing be used, making for a softer playing surface.

“We’re looking for the all around safest surface that we can possibly get. Ten percent of concussions that happen to athletes happen from their head hitting the surface,” Egan.said

Aside from the issue of raising money and choosing the most suitable playing surface, some are concerned about the safety of synthetic turf. Claims have been made recently that the crumb rubber infill can be carcinogenic and many politicians, including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have pushed for increased studies on the subject.

Egan said the data doesn’t point to health issues. “We have done a lot of research on this, and we have looked at a lot of documents that have been produced by state departments of health,” he said. “Connecticut actually did look at our fields. They did not find these fields and the conventional rubber infill to be a health hazard.”

To prevent contact with the rubber, he is requesting the same cork product that is used at fields at Greens Farms schools in Westport.

Egan’s request to fund the project through fundraising and moneys available in the Ram Spirit Fund was passed unanimously. The project is expected to cost between $381,446 and $513,413.

Private donors have gotten the Ram Spirit Fund up to about $200,000. Further fundraising efforts will continue in the hopes of replacing the field over the summer.

“We don’t ever want to be in the situation where we’re in the middle of one of our seasons and we have some major failure that puts us in a situation where we can’t use the field, so we’re trying to stay ahead of that in a prudent fashion,” Egan said.

justin.papp@scni.com; newcanaannewsonline.com