Letter: Why I’m Saying No to Artificial Fields

Letter to the editor submitted by Laura Kostin, April 5, 2018

Last month, the BET approved $300,000 for a feasibility study to examine the placement of an artificial turf field at Central Middle School.  Residents living near the school have been vocal about their opposition to a turf field at the site, for a variety of legitimate reasons.

They have argued that the project would bring more traffic to an already congested area, where daily chaos ensues at pick-up and drop off time. They are also rightfully concerned about the kind of increased use the project would attract on the weekends, when recreation leagues might be assigned to the location.

The neighbors are further concerned about the loss of a natural landscape, after an artificial surface with lights is erected where a park-like field currently stands.  Trading a grassy space for one with turf robs residents of a place to walk their dogs and enjoy a de-facto park. Additionally, they resent that Central Middle School would be used to solve a high school field problem.

But as a Central parent, I’m emphatically opposed to the installation of a turf field because there are currently no artificial surfaces deemed safe by the Federal government.

Five Federal agencies including the EPA and The Consumer Product Safety Commission are studying the safety of the most common turf surface, called crumb rubber.  Crumb rubber is made of ground-up car and truck tires, which is categorized in Connecticut as “special waste” – meaning it cannot be landfilled.  It is highly flammable and known to contain multiple carcinogens including Arsenic and Benzene.  All the artificial fields at Greenwich High School, except Cardinal Stadium, are made up of crumb rubber.

Other artificial surfaces including, Envirofill, the one currently in use at the stadium are unstudied.  There are numerous websites that proclaim the safety of these substances, with names like the The Synthetic Turf Council and TurfResearch.org. It’s important to understand that these are turf industry groups whose primary function is to lobby on behalf of turf companies.  Their “research” is suspect at best.

There is no sound reason to place an artificial field at Central Middle School, or any middle school for that matter.  It would be wise to listen to the stakeholders in this situation.  They are, after all, the ones who would bear the burden.