Newton sports fields are an investment in our quality of life, the sustainability of our community, and the healthy development of our children. Why spoil it by spending $3,240,000 on two artificial turf fields at Newton South?

On February 16 the Program and Services Committee will hold a public meeting in response to a citizen’s petition calling for the Councilors to reconsider their vote for artificial turf.

The petition asks the City to incorporate health and medical guidelines for playability because of the high incidence of injuries and heat related illness associated with artificial turf. It also asks for a study of the field scheduling system and for an independent comparative analysis of the true cost of organically managed natural grass fields versus artificial turf.

Citizens also question the Parks Department claim that the old turf will be recycled. According to PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, “Artificial turf makers and vendors use recycling claims as a promotional ploy to portray this product as an environmentally responsible alternative to traditional grass fields — but it is not…The recycling claim for turf is illegal greenwashing.” (False Recycling Claims. FTC Enforcement Urged to End Deceptive Turf Industry Greenwashing, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER, March 2022)

To prepare for the February 16 meeting, learn how “Three Massachusetts Communities Maintain Athletic Fields Organically.” The 4-minutes video features Springfield, Marblehead and Martha’s Vineyard. See other short videos and resources about organic turf at www.turi.org/organicgrass.

To learn more about the hazards of artificial turf see The Problem with Artificial Turf produced by The Citizens Campaign for the Environment. Also watch Artificial Turf Trouble at Our Schools & Playgrounds created by SAPPlings (Student Advocates Protecting the Planet), a project created by high school students for high school students in Montgomery County, Maryland.

While several Massachusetts towns have passed moratoriums on artificial turf, several state legislators have introduced bills to stop artificial turf including An Act prohibiting state and municipal contracts for the purchase and installation of artificial turf fields, An Act to consider the safety of artificial grass and turf surfaces, An Act relative to Toxic Free Kids, and An Act creating the outdoor recreation program that prohibits the use of its funds for artificial turf.

Let your city councilor know that you want Newton to make the smart choice for safe sustainable grass fields for Newton’s kids.

Ellie Goldberg is an advocate for healthy children, safe schools, and sustainable communities, and a Green Newton Advisory Board member. The post was originally published in Medium on January 8, 2023.

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