Greening our Children: Facts Misrepresented to BOE on Organic Turf

Open letter to the Board of Education submitted May 13, 2016 from Alex Bergstein and Abby Levy of Greeningourchildren.org

Dear Board of Education,

We listened intently to Mr. Matten’s presentation last night and appreciate the great questions you asked him.  Unfortunately, Mr. Matten and his consultants misrepresented some of the facts and neglected to disclose critical information that had previously been conveyed to the Turf Committee in writing.

Mr. Matten claims that maintenance costs for the organic infill are onerous. However:

1.    If Mr. Matten had communicated with his own committee, he would know that Tim Coughlin received an offer in writing on May 11 (see attached) from the organic  manufacturer to PROVIDE MAINTENANCE AT NO CHARGE. This offer is being formally communicated to Sprinturf and directly to Mr. Matten today.

2.    If Mr. Matten had cared to learn about the actual maintenance of Greenplay, he would have met with the Facilities Director at Brunswick, which he was invited to do on several occasions. Visiting GCDS to see Envirofill but not Brunswick to see the organic gives the appearance of bias and a failure to gather complete information.

3.    If Mr. Matten cared to evaluate the present and projected costs of various products, he would have documented these so they could be compared apples-to-apples (as Mr. Sherr suggested).

4.   Since Mr. Matten accepted a reduced price for Envirofill after bids were received, he should have also accepted the revised offer from Greenplay.

Mr. Matten stated that the BOE has no final say or vote on the turf selection. Rather, he claims, it is simply an administrative decision.

 This is false.  The Proposed Budget for the Town specifically states that funds for this project are “Subject to release by the BET upon receipt and acceptance … of evidence that the Board of Education, Board of Health and Parks and Recreation have considered and agreed on the product to be used.”  Clearly, this is not just a decision by the Turf Committee.  The BOE has responsibility for this choice and the right to question it.

Mr. Bernstein’s question about Envirofill breaking down and Ms. Dayton’s question about its effect on water quality raised important health and safety considerations, but they were summarily dismissed by the turf consultants.

On their website, Envirofill acknowledges that the material degrades over time by saying only “70% of the product will remain coated” after 16 years. And this is only an estimate since the product hasn’t been in use that long.  Regardless, the acrylic coating does wear off eventually and children will be inhaling dust from its contents.  Even before it breaks down, the Microban coating could run off when it rains and leach into the soil and water.  The consultant’s answer that because Envirofill is “heavy” it won’t move is patently absurd and doesn’t address the fact that there are no water safety studies or human exposure studies to validate the assertion of safety.

Please know that our objective is not to advocate for any particular product, but simply to ensure an informed and transparent decision-making process.  Based on what we heard last night, we see that the Turf Committee is not considering all the relevant data, and the facts have not been fairly presented to the Board. We hope you’ll continue your excellent line of questioning to ensure an informed decision and the safest outcome for our children.

Respectfully,

Alex Bergstein
Abby Levy
Greeningourchildren.org

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 12.08.30 PM

  • Bill Effros

    A Few Words About Geese

    Not all Greenwich High School fields are artificial. Greenwich High School is a migratory path for Canada Geese. Geese graze on the GHS softball field every day.

    Geese must defecate the grass they eat very quickly because the bulk makes them too heavy to fly. A healthy adult goose defecates every 20 minutes, for a total of up to 1.5 pounds of feces each day.

    Some of this excrement inevitably falls onto the synthetic turf fields, where it sits until some child carries it off on his or her clothing and skin. (The only other way to remove the feces is continual vacuuming of all synthetic turf surfaces. The synthetic membrane prevents the feces from washing through to the soil below.)