If passed by voters in November, the bond would fund improvements to city parks recommended by a study commissioned last year by the Council. One of many recommendations was that 9 city fields be replaced with artificial turf.
Zack Ettinger spoke in favor of artificial turf on behalf of the city's youth soccer league, saying that it provided consistent bounces and a smooth surface for the ball, and would provide players with more time to practice and play, by extending the season. Others with soccer experience disagreed on the value of predictable ball bounces. Resident Scott Kessel, who has coached at the intercollegiate level, said that the elimination of irregularities would deny children one of life's most important lessons--learning how to deal with irregular bounces.
Mary Bartolotta proposed, and Hope Kasper seconded, the amendment removing the phrase "artificial turf" from the bond ordinance. Gerald Daley argued against this amendment, and offered a substitute that would mandate that the infill of the artificial turf be "organic, plant-derived". He argued that it was important to allow for multiple options. Bartolotta would have none of it, she felt that leaving options open for artificial turf was not good for residents.
Sebastian Giuliano argued that even Daley's version of the amendment was unacceptable, he urged that all options be available to those responsible for the fields. He justified this by proclaiming his ignorance, "I don't know enough to know if this stuff is dangerous or is not dangerous."
Jim Streeto was also strongly opposed to the amendment, but he said he would support it for "political reasons". He was worried that residents would vote down the bond appropriation if it included artificial fields, and he thought the appropriation as a whole was too important, "half a loaf is better than none."
The city's bond counsel informed the Council that the removal of the phrase "artificial turf" from the ordinance meant that any improvements to city fields would have to be natural grass.
The vote on Bartolotta's amendment was tied 5 to 5, with Bartolotta, Kasper, Deb Kleckowski, Streeto, and Robert Santangelo, voting in favor.
Mayor Dan Drew cast the deciding vote in favor of the amendment.
The underlying resolution to approve the ordinance passed unanimously, and thus voters will decide in November whether to authorize $37M in park improvements that would NOT include artificial turf fields.