Homestead Park’s grass soccer fields will be replaced with an artificial cork surface.

According to Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, the bids for the replacement of the turf came in higher than expected.

“We’re going to choose to go with cork,” Hemminger said. “It’s a little more expensive. Most of the increase in the bid was for infrastructure though, some of it was from a difference of this fill.

Town staff took a trip to Gaffney, South Carolina, Hemminger said, in an effort to learn more about the cork product.

“We think it’s a better opportunity,” the mayor said.

The town had originally decided to use a recyclable rubber infill called EPDM. But there have been growing concerns that the product that was being used could cause health concerns.

“The EPA has not acknowledged any studies out there whether crumb rubber actually causes any health risks; we don’t know,” said Hemminger.

The possible health concerns led to Chapel Hill parents lobbying for a change from the town.

Hemminger said although the town does not know if there are any safety concerns or not, that they would rather err on the side of being safer until they know more.

The changes in the product being used has been one factor that has caused an increase in the cost of the project by more than $500,000, according to town documents. In order to meet bid requirements of signing the contract by the end of July and do the project this summer, budget numbers have to be moved around to accommodate the extra $500,000 in costs.

The council was presented with an option at a work session earlier this month that would allow for the cost to be covered by moving money from additional capital improvement projects, including moving from a bridge replacement to a bridge repair in Meadowmont.