Opinion piece submitted by Thomas D’Aquila
I understand that there is confusion about QUESTION TWO which is part of the upcoming Referendum to be held on Election Day, November 3rd. This question, if passed, will eliminate the use of any Synthetic Turf fields. The Common Council had a study done at the cost of $80,000 to help them decide what to should be done to improve the fields. The study suggested that both grass and synthetic turf fields are needed throughout the city. There was an elaborate plan for the fields that went along with the study. The last time a study was conducted was the Storch study in 1982, and then John Milardo did a more recent study before he retired. Nothing of value was done with either of these studies and the fields are slowly being worn out by the continuous use they receive.
There has been much discussion about the safety of synthetic turf fields here and elsewhere. I have read numerous reports from various states such as, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia. I have also read a newspaper article taken from USA Today (10/8/15) and a report from a leading toxicologist, Laura Green, Ph.D MIT. These reports and articles all state that all conclusive evidence shows that synthetic fields, using rubber crumb do not pose a health risk to those who play on them.
Another plus in favor of Synthetic Tuft fields is that four state agencies have combined efforts in a study. They include The University of Connecticut Health Center, The Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station, The Department of Public Health and The Department of Environmental Protection and all have concluded, that there is no conclusive evidence that playing fields with crumb rubber leads to any health risks.
Times have changed; we are no longer a city that hosts just football, baseball and soccer teams. More and different teams have evolved and more teams will mean we need more Lacrosse and ultimate Frisbee have taken the city by storm, not to mention our city’s soccer program (over 1000 participants), the Little League summer and fall programs, American legion summer and fall programs, Lacrosse summer and fall, and softball summer and fall teams, just to mention a few. Our high school cannot accommodate these new sports as well as existing sports. Many of our junior varsity teams (i.e. softball etc.) have to be bused to other sites. I have not even mentioned our tennis teams (boys and girls) who have no courts on site and have to be bused daily to practice. We need to improve what we have and the way to do this is by making some of the fields synthetic. Synthetic fields will tolerate the high usage and will help cut down on the maintenance needed everyday to maintain grass fields.
Vote NO to grass only -- question 2.
This is the year to change and to improve what we now have for future generations. Let us do it right this time. I am in favor of synthetic turf fields because some of the popular sports are very hard on fields. Sports such as Lacrosse, football and soccer tear a field up, especially in inclement weather, whereas a synthetic turf field can handle any sport, in any weather, without high maintenance. This also means teams can practice on turf fields without ruining them for game time. You get the ultimate usage on a synthetic turf field.
There are synthetic turf fields in our city already. Xavier, Wesleyan University (2) and Middletown High School have turf fields. Neighboring towns such as Durham, Rocky Hill Wethersfield, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Berlin, Hamden, and New Britain, which is now putting in another tuft field, all have tuft fields. In the Ivy League there are six of eight schools have synthetic turf fields. It is hard to imagine that all these entities have not done their research and deemed synthetic turf safe for use.
My final reason for voting NO to question 2 is because I believe that there might be several new things added to this question that were not there originally. The true costs and specs to complete this project have not been included, such as a boat launch, boathouse brick pathways, riverfront and playscapes. Please become educated and vote QUESTION TWO DOWN.