Some of Middletown’s Common Council members were not convinced by the evidence presented by a multitude of speakers who turned out at three consecutive meetings recently to speak against installing Artificial Turf. The cumulative evidence was clear that synthetic turf is a health and environmental hazard, including exposing young players to cancer causing chemicals that are composites plastics and in-fill that are the artificial turf material as well as hazards such as slippery surfaces and heat hazards that limit playing time. Some of the speakers who eloquently (and in detail) spoke against the artificial turf were physicians, scientists and highly trained educators, but despite their obvious qualifications the opposition attendees had the temerity to characterize these speakers as fringe “elitists” who aren’t athletes who would be using the fields. [P.S. Physicians and scientists probably left their athletic days behind years ago, but many of them have children or grandchildren in the city’s athletic programs.] The attendees that supported artificial turf installations apparently give credence only to coaches and sports organizers as being legitimate arbiters of what is safe for children to play on. One of these parents negated natural grass fields as causing balls to bounce erratically as if that was a terrible adversity that a child had to contend with, a character and athletic ability building condition that would be eliminated with a perfectly smooth, unflawed synthetic turf field.Newsflash, people! This week the Artificial Turf proponents have been thrown a curve ball. The truth of real world experience can be enlightening. Facts and specific circumstances that occurred this week at our very own Middletown High School artificial turf field deflates their argument. Tucked away on an inside page of Thursday's Hartford Courant was an article that demonstrated that the “fringe” experts in fact were correct: this week’s heat wave caused the City’s own athletic director at the Middletown High School to move football practice off the artificial turf field due to concerns about the extreme heat level on the high school’s fancy synthetic turf field.A second news story hit the nightly news Wednesday evening on television. “The Stratford High School football coach is under scrutiny after some of his players were blistered and burned by the team’s scorching artificial turf field earlier this week. Parents told NBC Connecticut head coach T.J. Cavaliere instructed the team to crawl across the AstroTurf at Stratford High School on their bare hands Monday, when [air] temperatures climbed past 90 degrees. Sunny turf can get even hotter.” “It wasn’t just a hot field. These kids, their skin melted off their hands,” said Stratford Town Council candidate Sean Haubert.Please let us in Middletown not have to use 20/20 hindsight to recognize that Artificial Turf is not a good investment for the City. The excuse the Stratford coach used in “not being aware” is inexcusable. Middletown has been presented with sufficient warning that Artificial Turf is not good for the environment and it is not good for the health of our children. Those “pretty” fields are not safe. Parents, call the Mayor’s office or the Common Council members to encourage them to do the right thing and not install any more Artificial Turf fields as some of the City’s sports teams have been demanding. The safe material for playing fields for your children is organically grown natural turf. Let the balls bounce erratically. It will teach your kid to be a better player.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Against Artificial Turf for Playing Fields
The following editorial was submitted by Joan Liska, a resident of Middletown.