State Reps Blow Whistle On Turf Fields

Westport has 4 artificial turf playing fields: Paul Lane and Jinny Parker at Staples, Wakeman just north of Bedford Middle School, and PJ Romano behind Saugatuck Elementary School.

There has been talk of turfing at least one more surface at Wakeman, and Loeffler at Staples.

Turf fields require much less maintenance than grass fields. However, they must be replaced every 10 years or so.

Paul Lane Field at Staples High School is one of Westport’s 4 artificial surfaces.

Nearly every other town in Connecticut has multiple turf fields too.

Their future would be in doubt, if a bill proposed by 2 state representatives passes.

The “Act Prohibiting State And Municipal Contracts For The Purchase And Installation Of Artificial Turf Fields” asks that

the general statutes be amended to provide that on and after October 1, 2023, no municipality, including, but not limited to, any school district, and no private entity, department or agency of the state shall enter a contract for the purchase, use or installation of artificial turf for a new or existing field.

It also would provide that “such turf fields be grandfathered to allow for their useful life but prohibit their replacement after such time.”

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to “prohibit municipal and state contracts for the purchase and installation of artificial turf fields that pose health and environmental concerns.”

There are many kinds of artificial surfaces, including coconut and crumb rubber. Different surfaces were not identified in the proposed law, nor were “health and environmental concerns.”

The bill heads now to the Joint Environment Committee. For more information, click here(Hat tip: Kathleen Galley)

Visitors watch the UN-Westport soccer match at PJ Romano Field.

16 responses to “State Reps Blow Whistle On Turf Fields

  1. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    I guess what begs asking is: “What is artificial?” My (naturally) Neanderthal definition would be anything that is not natural. So to carry that out: Let’s return to those stirring days of yesteryear where native indigenous peoples indulged in “primitive” sports whenever/wherever the spirit (the indigenous person’s “great spirit” not the false God of the Anglo-Saxon oppressor) moved them. Anything else is artificial. And no naming rights. Sorry Jinny and Paul, you no longer fit the narrative.

  2. Allow me to share an article I wrote last fall about the health and environmental problems with artificial turf. Although the focus is on the rise of “fake lawns,” the issues are the same with athletic surfaces, only larger. Such as:

    “Like junk food, artificial turf may seem like a convenient, easy fix. But think again. Astroturf is billed as maintenance-free, yet it still requires upkeep and needs to be replaced in as few as 10 years. It’s costly to install – $20 per square foot – and near impossible to recycle once it does break down.

    “The plastic used in the production of artificial grass is usually petroleum-based, which means that its manufacture contributes to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The fake product also remains in the ground forever once it ends up in a landfill. The average athletic field contains approximately 40,000 pounds of plastic carpet and 400,000 pounds of infill, according to The Atlantic, which tallied up the amount of fake turf detritus disposed every year in the U.S. at 330 million pounds.

    “Worse, the little black pellets often used in combination with Astroturf are in large part made from old tires. ‘These pellets always find a way outside the field due to rain or hitchhiking in one’s shoe, which contributed to local plastic pollution,’ says Circling the News, in a report on the hidden dangers of artificial turf. ‘Like it or not, pieces of plastic lawn break down and contaminate our soils for centuries regardless of being recycled.’

    “Then there are the ill effects on soil health and wildlife…”

  3. No artificial turf fields allowed anywhere in the state sounds a little communist.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      As long as it’s just “a little Communist.” But a little here and a little there and before you know it….you’re 2023!!!! And it’s only been two years!!!!

  4. I have been a proponent of natural grass over artificial turf for over 30 years. Coming out of the 90s watching the velcro effect and players’ injuries skyrocket through to the present with rubber crumb being studied for potential link to cancers. (Nothing says fun like rinsing out all the rubber from your 6 yr old’s water bottle) If implemented correctly and maintained without chemical pesticides, I think this is a turfgrass step in the right direction! And hey- maybe Staples will include some turfgrass maintenance courses to boot! (okay- i went to an ag school- i admit it…& it was really fun!) Here’s an article on switching from a modular grass system to conventional a few years ago at my alma mater Michigan State University.

    Side Note: Big thanks to you Dan for the correct spelling of Jinny Parker Field. Maybe Staples will someday correct their misspelling! As a parent (and self declared Google guide) always running around town and dropping pins for family members at various fields; I marked google maps with the Jinny Parker Field location. After reading your wonderful Jinny Parker article- I did some more research and checked in with one of SHS ’78 alums, Maryann Levanti. She also confirmed “Jinny with a J!” and then started singing “The Old Gray Mare,” as she said she would when riding back on buses from sporting events 🙂

    • Thanks, Kit — much appreciated. I’m fighting a losing battle. So many Staples people tell me I’m wrong. I tell them I knew Jinny, and they didn’t. They don’t care.

      • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

        I knew Jinny too. But I never knew it was supposed to be Jinny, not Ginny. Surely there has to be a story there….

  5. Wendy Goldwyn Batteau

    Artificial turf fields were banned in Westport several years ago, for important health, safety, and environmental reasons.
    Sec. 30-301. – Application of synthetic infill material on playing fields on town property prohibited.

    The application of synthetic infill material on any existing playing fields on Westport town property shall be permitted only on an as needed basis to maintain health and safety standards as determined by the Parks and Recreation Department on and after the effective date of this article. The creation of any new or replacement playing fields on Westport town property using synthetic infill material shall be prohibited on and after the effective date of this article. For the purposes of this article, “synthetic infill material” means ambient and cryogenic crumb rubber, coated crumb rubber, ethylene propylene diene monomer granules, and recycled footwear.

  6. Miss Parker had a nickname. No one is wrong or right. Virginia is certainly correct. It is doubtful that people who didn’t know her have an opinion.

  7. I appreciate Wendy Batteau’s information. Wendy was long the Chair of the RTM Environment Committee and she continues in that commitment as an ongoing important member of the RTM.

  8. Next they’ll be coming for our gas stoves.

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