Artificial turf removal at Newton South High School (NSHS) was discussed by Newton’s Sustainable Materials Management Commission (SMMC) last Thursday evening after new pictures of the project were shared by the group Better Action Now on Artificial Turf. 

The group was organized last year to challenge the City’s plan to replace two fields at NSHS and the field at NNHS, as well as to install a new artificial turf at Albemarle Field. They created a website of resources and expert testimony explaining the environmental hazards of artificial turf, the risks to health, safety, and the city’s finances, and the evidence that the Parks Department’s claim that the material will all be recycled is not true.  

SMMC member, Karen Slote, provided the Commission with a history and overview of artificial turf fields in general and artificial turf fields in Newton. The Commission then discussed concerns raised by Ward 3 Councillor Julia Malakie and environmental health advocate Ellie Goldberg regarding the removal process underway as part of the NSHS Artificial Turf Replacement project. 

Councilor Malakie has documented the NSHS turf removal in three videos posted on the webpage “This is NOT Recycling.” The videos show the old artificial turf field sections rolled up and shedding crumb rubber over the whole area. There are loose crumb rubber pellets all over the site, the walkways, near unprotected storm drains and near a swing set used by the NSHS preschool. Crumb rubber pellets, pieces of plastic turf, and other debris were also piled into a large orange dumpster. 

After a lengthy discussion, the Commission voted to immediately send letters to the Mayor and City Council calling for a better management plan for the old artificial turf materials before the next two fields are removed. They agreed to create a second letter to the Administration and the Parks, Recreation, and Culture Department objecting to new installations and the replacement of artificial turf and asking for information about where the artificial turf materials are really going.

See the letters to the Mayor and City Council posted at the Turf News website.

Photos of the artificial turf removal currently underway at Newton South High School: