LETTER: Disrespect, Incivility and Intimidation Compliments of the Board of Education

Letter to the editor from Jude Braunstein, Susan Rudolph, Warren Silver, Liane Tel and Arthur Yee MD

Congratulations to the Board of Education and Chairman Peter Bernstein for hosting what has to have been the most outrageous display of disrespect, incivility and intimidation at a BoE meeting ever.

We believed we live in a democracy where everyone’s opinions and points of view should be shared and considered without fear of repercussion or intimidation. Thursday night’s BoE meeting was a disgraceful display of anger and mean spiritedness that was allowed to run rampant by Peter Bernstein and other members of the BoE.

For more than three years, a small group of us have been lobbying and educating the community on the inherent dangers of artificial turf. We have spoken at more than a dozen public meetings, have written articles and have gathered the support of more than 2,500 Greenwich residents who do not support the use of artificial turf on our middle school fields. And we have done this with respect.

We have never made this debate personal, have never intimidated anyone and have maintained a level of respect for the democratic process. This cannot be said for the proponents of artificial turf who attended the meeting last night and made this debate very personal and very combative.

These Johnny-come-latelies to the debate arrived at the BoE meeting ready for a fight, armed with inaccuracies and lies as they attempted to make their point by shouting down our experts, independent scientist and medical professionals from Mount Sinai ICAHN School of Medicine and Environment and Human Health, Inc. and heckling us whilst we presented our facts and findings.

But that was not the worst, they came armed with our names and addresses, our political affiliations, values of our homes and the cars we drove presumably to make a point that our argument was a selfish case of NIMBY (not in my backyard). This feeble attempt to intimidate and discredit us, failed spectacularly on all counts.
@ Carl Higbie, check your facts. For the record, we all don’t drive V8 trucks, we never said there was an NFL or professional sports team who brought a case about AT, the health risks to our children are not “hog wash” they are in fact, very real, and have been verified by independent agencies and public health professionals. We are not a small few that oppose artificial turf. There are another 2,500 Greenwich residents who also oppose its use. “Sad, disgusting and pathetic” are hardly words to characterize who we are but given how uniformed you are about everything else, we are not surprised by your characterization.

Where did the notion of extending out backyards come from? This is not only a false assertion, it’s a ridiculous one. We do not need to extend our backyards or to use CMS as a de facto dog run. What we need and what we want are safe playing fields for our children and shame on all of you for not wanting the same.

We can only suppose that when the evidence is irrefutable, the only alternative is to discredit the messenger.

Proponents of artificial turf repeatedly highlighted that the infill used was no longer crumb rubber and a new “healthier” infill was now being used. How very naïve and ill-informed to think that alternative infills are safe and that they are our sole objection.

The 400,000 pounds of infill is only part of the problem, the 40,000 pounds of plastic used to create the blades and backing, the carcinogenic chemicals, the endocrine disruptors and the PFAs (a polymer chemical compound) are our concerns. And frankly, they should be yours. We are very much concerned about the impact leaching chemicals will have on our water table and ultimately the impact on the environment.

Assuming the 25-30 hours of playing time on real grass is correct, Milone and MacBroom’s Option 1 proposed a 170,000 square foot natural grass field. According to the National Federation of State High School Association rules, a US high school soccer field is 55,000 square feet. Therefore, Central Middle School’s field is large enough to accommodate three regulation-size soccer fields. This will enable Parks and Recreation sufficient time to rest one field whilst using the other fields, thereby providing 75 hours of weekly playing time or nearly 11 hours of playing time PER DAY.

In an attempt to sway the Board of Education’s decision, artificial turf proponents presented inaccuracies designed to confuse facts and attempted to discredit those in opposition, but their efforts were unnecessary. It was undeniably clear that the Board of Education came to this meeting as close-minded as ever, unmoved by the facts and unwavering in their decision to turf
our middle school fields.

The question still remains why?

Jude Braunstein
Susan Rudolph
Warren Silver
Liane Tel
Arthur Yee MD