STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
HOUSTON — The maker of the original shock pad installed at Bulldog Field disputes Burnet Consolidated Independent School District’s claim the company hasn’t offered to help resolve an issue that led to the replacement of part of the synthetic turf.
On May 19, the Burnet school district released a statement regarding the replacement of the elastic-layer shock pad, which goes underneath the artificial turf but above the base or sub-base. District officials called out Houston-based En-Plast, the manufacturer of the original shock pad installed in 2015, because the company “has not offered to be a part of resolving the issue.”
En-Plast President and CEO Giovanni Capra disputed this conclusion.
Capra said “the notion that En-Plast did not help to resolve the matter is not accurate and suggests that En-Plast was unwilling to participate in the process or to live up to a commitment.”
“This mischaracterizes what happened,” he continued.
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BCISD officials began noticing issues with the turf last year. In the May 19 release, the district stated the En-Plast shock pad and the turf by manufacturer Greenfields were “interacting in a way that was causing degradation of the backing on the turf and allowing … fiber loss.”
On May 23, Superintendent Keith McBurnett said the district is seeking $105,000 from En-Plast to cover the cost of its pad after the board of trustees approved spending $150,000 to have new turf from Greenfields and a new Symmetry E-Layer system shock pad installed. He offered no further comment.
In a statement, Capra said Symmetry Turf, the installer and En-Plast’s contractual party, brought the issue of turf degradation and fraying to the attention of En-Plast in the fall of 2016. By contract with Symmetry, he added, En-Plast employees aren’t allowed to talk to any school district official. Capra said he would not open communications with a school district official because it would violate the terms of the contract.
“Burnet CISD never contacted me directly,” Capra said. “My communication channel to the school is through Symmetry.”
He said En-Plast conducted testing in November that demonstrated the underlying pad met its specification and, furthermore, could not be the cause of turf deterioration. He said the company did not receive any response from the Burnet school district.
In March, BCISD officials pressed Symmetry to address the issue with the field, Capra said.
Using samples provided by Symmetry, En-Plast conducted further forensic testing. En-Plast then presented the results of its independent forensic testing to Symmetry, which included cycle testing results of a cross-section representing the field as well as microscopic and thermographic analysis of the turf.
“These results demonstrated the pad met its intended function,” Capra said. “Ultimately, without responding to the test results submitted, Symmetry chose to remove the En-Plast pad.”
That was done in April and May when workers installed a Symmetry E-Layer system during the turf replacement process. The work was completed May 19.
Capra added that district officials, not experts, determined that En-Plast was at fault, and their determination was not based on independent testing as established by a protocol and agreed by all parties but rather speculation.
“In truth, En-Plast was never responsible for the problem,” he said.
He said En-Plast was involved in all aspects of the discussions except for the final decision to remediate “by removing the only functional element of the field, the En-Plast pad.”
Capra said En-Plast officials offered to send the test results to BCISD but never received the go-ahead or acknowledgement the test results were even submitted to the district.
“I can not send a test to the school district,” he said. “They are not in contract with me.”
He also stated that En-Plast has not received any test results conducted by any other parties showing the product the company supplied does not meet the project specification as listed by the project engineer.
“En-Plast’s email communications with Symmetry reflect that En-Plast was responsive at all times, on top of the issue, and even suggested corrective actions that could be less invasive or costly,” Capra said in the statement.
As for the school district, Capra said En-Plast is “disappointed and harmed by the statements from the district and believe the statements reflect an unfair and transparent effort by Symmetry to conduct ‘damage control’ for their own failure by limiting the information provided to the district.”