A pitch to head off artificial turf in Woodside
Original post made by Patrick Noonan on May 16, 2007
Am I the only person in Woodside who cares that soon two of our beautiful natural turf playing fields at the elementary school will be dug up and replaced with approximately 75,000 square feet of rubber and plastic several inches deep?
It's artificial turf. Birds don't like to land on it. There are no bees on it. There are no clover or dandelions on it. There is never the smell of fresh-cut grass. No white clover blossoms. There are no worms under it. Ladybugs who land on it don't last long.
On the surface there are loose particles of rubber and silica sand, which hold up the plastic blades of grass. I wonder what will happen if some of the little creatures that live in our schoolyard eat the rubber. What if a first-grader drops a sandwich or an apple on the artificial turf and rubber particles stick to it? Will they be harmed if they accidentally eat it? What if a toddler watching a soccer game or on a weekend picnic picks up a handful of the loose rubber pellets from the top of the turf?
We are stealing something from the children. We are stealing the unique and wonderful experience of playing sports on natural turf. As adults we all have that memory and cherish it. I don't understand why we would deny it to our children.
I console myself by saying that the children will still have the sky. We can't take the sky away from them. But it's not the top of the sky I'm worried about. It's the top six feet of sky above the artificial turf. Plastic and rubber smell. And that smell is tiny particles.
On a hot day when the children are playing their hearts out and breathing as hard as they can, are they breathing something that may hurt them someday? How does the material age? What happens to it when it begins to break down?
The clue to the nature of artificial turf is that birds don't like it. There's nothing to eat there. It smells funny. So if birds don't like it, why are we putting our treasure, our children, and in my case, grandchildren, on it?
You know if I saw animals on it in a zoo, I would feel sorry for them and complain to the zookeeper that it is cruel to separate living beings from the natural world.
Maybe if someone besides me contacts the school board and complains a little, the decision to renovate with artificial turf instead of natural turf may not be set in concrete.
Sooner or later we're going to get fed up with the rubber and plastic fields, or some one will discover that maybe it's harmful to our children. Then we'll dig the stuff up, haul it off to the recycler and renovate with natural turf. Why not do it now before we pay for it?
The Woodside Elementary School board's Web site is Web Link
-- Patrick Noonan, Glenwood Avenue, Woodside
This letter was published in the May 16, 2007, print edition of the Almanac.
on May 16, 2007 at 2:52 pm
While I prefer good natural grass, the sad fact is that in order to keep the grass in good shape it cannot be used much of the time. It needs time to rest between games, cannot be used when its raining, or has rained recently, or been watered a lot, etc. The artificial turf fields are MUCH better than bad grass fields, and can be used 100% of the time. In my mind, that more than offsets the slightly better state of GOOD grass fields.
My 5 year old daughter and 4 year old son both play on the grass fields at Woodside elementary and the artificial turf at Woodside high now, and have since they were born, and I'm more worried about sprained/broken ankles due to holes in the natural turf than swallowing a rubber pellet from the artificial one. By all means let's steal the sensation of breaking your ankle in a gopher hole from all future generations.
My main complaint with artificial turf is it does get warmer in the sun, but nothing's perfect.
on May 16, 2007 at 3:24 pm
Manfred Kopisch is a registered user.
We had the same issue recently in Menlo Park, where the Menlo Park School District wanted to put artificial turf at Encinal Elementary School. Many parents felt exactly like you and didn't want their children to play on artificial turf with all its downsides. The parents started an online petition and got over 300 signatures in roughly two weeks. Over 30 parents showed up at the Menlo Park City council and spoke up against artificial turf at the elementary school. As a result the city council voted against contributing money towards artificial turf at our elementary school. Furthermore Ken Ranella, the superintendent of the MPCSD, assured these parents at the City Council meeting that no artificial turf would be put in at any elementary school in Menlo Park and took that topic off the school board meeting agenda.
What was important in our efforts in Menlo Park was to not only complain individually, but also act as a group. The online-petition was the glue that showed everyone how many people are really against artificial turf at our elementary schools. That way everyone knew who else didn't want it and could talk to them. Otherwise these complaints would have been individual calls or emails to the school board without knowledge about each other.
Good Luck in your efforts,
P.S.: You might want to check this link out for some information Web Link
on May 16, 2007 at 4:55 pm
The underlying assumption of the argument for natural grass is that the natural grass fields are maintained and built as true playing fields. This is not the case at Woodside or any of the other elementary school fields in our area. The fields as currently maintained are dangerous and not appropriate for any sports. They all have big holes, uneven grass, and are over watered and muddy. It would take money, time and sustained commitment to maintain these fields properly. All of the towns in our region have demonstrated a lack of commitment and a shortage in resources to adequately maintain the natural grass fields. No one is going to wave a magic wand and make this situation change. It is the natural state of a bureaucracy to do nothing. A proper natural grass field is designed with sand under layers, proper drainage, etc. The only field like this in the area is the Burgess Recreation field. None of the elementary school budgets have allocated for building properly designed natural grass playing fields. We are better off with synthetic turf that than bad natural grass.