Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Opinion: Artificial Turf with "Organic" Infill Still a Costly Risk to our Children and the Environment

Dear Mayor Drew and Members of the Common Council,

I am concerned about the recent flurry of activity associated with revisiting the parks improvement bond language. I want to make it clear that those of us who spoke out against artificial turf at last week's hearing do not support any form of artificial turf, including artificial turf with "organic" infill. 

As mentioned by some who oppose artificial turf at the hearing, the alternative infills have not been tested independently, so it is not known whether they are safe relative to traditional crumb rubber infill, nor is it known what the long term impacts to players may be. Further, any form of artificial turf is still composed of plastic blades of grass, which result in "turf burn" injuries and unsafe high surface temperatures. 

The environmental concerns associated with converting pervious natural grass fields to impervious plastic artificial surfaces would be the same, no matter what the infill.  

Use of artificial turf fields would also limit the use of fields intended for public use and supported by public funds. When converted to artificial turf, they would no longer be available for use by members of the public for activities other than sanctioned organized team sports. 

Last but not least, the cost of artificial turf, would be exorbitant, even more so with "organic" infill. From what I understand, the infill composed of coconut fiber costs nearly three times as much as crumb rubber infill, about $50,000 more per field, and would have a lifespan of 2-3 years instead of the 8-10 year lifespan of the rubber crumbs. The huge expense--for initial installation, and disposal and replacement--would be an unnecessary expense that should not be borne by the City's taxpayers. 

Should artificial turf re-enter the equation as far as the parks improvement bond is concerned, you can be sure that I would not support the referendum and would lobby heavily against it, as I believe would be the case for others opposing artificial turf. 

Again, we should "Play it Safe" where our children, the environment and limited financial resources are concerned, and improve our playing fields by making the switch to affordable and safe organically maintained natural grass fields.

Jane Brawerman 

Note: This letter was sent to the Mayor and Common Council on Sept. 1, 2015, by Jane Brawerman, Middletown resident, parent, environmental professional, and member of the Conservation Commission. As a point of clarification, the"organic" infill referred to in the letter is a plant-based infill made of coconut fiber and cork.


Anonymous said...

The parks dept can't maintain the fields we currently have how will adding even more grass fields save us any money in the long run? This bond has turned into a political pissing match using one sided biases to support either side. With the complete removal of artificial turf from the bond due the opinion of 25 environmentalists I will be forced to vote against this matter as will many others who have children that actually play sports in town.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of one-sided biases, trying to say that only 25 people object is totally wrong. There are many more. Only 25 were at the meeting.

Catherine said...

Where will these new fields go? And all these other facilities?
Why does it have to be all at once - why can't there be a bond for $15-20 million and do a second phase in 2 years?

Anonymous said...


They ask for all the money at once because several years down the line when they try to complete the plans the costs will have escalated and then the argument is, "Well, we've spent so much what's a few million more to finish it." Case in point, the sewer project.

Anonymous said...

"The environmental concerns associated with converting pervious natural grass fields to impervious plastic artificial surfaces would be the same, no matter what the infill."

Well I guess we are going to need to a) remove the high school field b) ban our high school teams from playing away games that are on turf c) remove all of our tracks (made of the same stuff as turf fields) d) eliminate roads, sidewalks, indoor carpet, and cars.....

let's all go out and buy hemp clothing and walk around barefoot. No need for showers either...think of the water we will save.

Anonymous said...

In response to anon. at 1:12--

A. Removing the high school field will have to happen soon anyway. It's life span is nearly over.
B. We focus too much on athletics to the detriment of academics, so we should start reducing the number of away games we play anyway. This would be a good way to choose which schools to continue playing.
C. Sounds good to me. Their days are probably numbered too.
D. Not sure how this follows from the opening quote.