Nancy Adams discusses concerns for replacing the grass field at DeHart with Artificial Turf
I was Maplewood Mayor in 2008 when artificial turf was debated and defeated by referendum. In researching the pros and cons of turf I found the arguments, made by the medical community and environmentalists, far more compelling than the arguments made by the turf industry. I believed then, and I believe now, that the health of our youth and our environment outweighs any claimed benefits of replacing natural grass with rubber pellets and plastic.-Ken Pettis, former Mayor of Maplewood
Maplewood has a shortage of public green space. The more than $1.7 million proposal to cover the grass field at DeHart Park with plastic makes that worse. No new field space and 4.5 acres of green space wiped out in the Maplewood neighborhood that needs green space the most. We can do better! On November 2nd, vote NO on the Township of Maplewood Capital Proposal Question #3.-David Huemer, former Maplewood Deputy Mayor
As a Hilton neighborhood resident and mom whose kids use the field for Ultimate and for play I'm against artificial turf. The human health impact and environmental impact are too high, and if installed will be a very costly mistake.- Melissa M., Maplewood
Many of those who favor artificial turf mention their embarrassment at the state of Maplewood’s natural grass fields. I have lived in Maplewood for more than 27 years and never saw it as defined or measured by the quality of its athletic fields. What I have been proud of and what I believe set Maplewood apart was its long history of support for the environment and commitment to racial and social justice, values that would be betrayed by ripping up the only green space in the part of town that is most densely populated and has the lowest income and largest minority population, and replacing it with toxic, climate-warming plastic that will need to be dumped in a landfill before it is even paid off. I am ashamed that my town wants to do this though less ashamed than I would otherwise be because so many people have stepped up to fight it. They are the Maplewood I know and love and am very PROUD to be a part of! - Mary G., Maplewood
It is clear that the TC has rushed this without doing the appropriate due diligence, community outreach, and vetting of the salesman. Stop dumping on this part of town.- Heather S., Maplewood
Artificial Turf is anti-environmental responsibility, and taking away the neighborhood's only green space is environmental injustice. The report that has recommended this action is filled with inaccuracies, and the process of seeking citizen input through the TC meetings has been flawed. To have some people comment on a report that has not been available to the public, and that is about to be voted on, is wrong.- Laurel K., Maplewood
Don't turf Dehart! As a Hilton resident of 17 years this is our only green space- Julie K., Maplewood
I’m against turfing the field at DeHart Park. We spend a lot of time at this park. Environmental impact and access to green space for the community are two reasons I ask the township to reconsider installing artificial turf. -Emily E., Maplewood
The environmental impact of artificial turf is of great concern to me. As we keep hearing about the damage we’ve already done to our oceans through the breakdown of all the plastics we’ve allowed to enter there, do we really want to cover our natural ground with more plastics and other synthetic compounds? Once again, we’re paving paradise and don’t know what havoc we wreak until it’s too late. -Rona K., Maplewood
As a Maplewood resident who lives next to Dehart Park, I strongly oppose artificial turf installation! I don't want myself and my fellow neighbors to be exposed to the turf's chemicals! -Logan J., Maplewood
Let’s enhance our green spaces and the environment not get rid of it. -Imani O., Maplewood
Dehart Park is a community park with many community/family users; for recreation, garherings, & to cool off in the summer! Hiltin residents do not want a Heat Island in our park. This proposed artificial turf may! would possibly benefit only the Soccer leagues, but also poses dangers to the players. Our green grass field provides a cool place on summer mornings & evenings for Hilton residents as a whole. -Julie K., Maplewood
I believe there should be more input and engagement with the local community. To take away green space without a strong dialog with the community would be an insult to neighbors of the park. -Anthony N., Maplewood
Given all that we know about climate change, and given the slew of painful disasters that we are seeing all around us as a result, it pains me that we are even considering the removal of our natural grass fields. As heat indexes continue to rise rapidly, and record shattering temperatures are happening all over the world, the installation of artificial turf should be a non-starter for everyone everywhere. -Eric S., Maplewood
The scientific literature is clear: turf is not great at best, and harmful at worst, both for the environment and for the health and safety of children. Let's just come together for a solution on maintaining the grass field instead. -Axel T., Maplewood
I'd like to know what deals were made for this nonsense, because clearly something shady is going on here. The racial/socioeconomic undertones and environmental implications should give everyone pause. -Kristin O., Maplewood
We need to preserve green space for our children and our planet. We don't need plastic, fences, and restricted access. -Kate M., Maplewood
I use the park but I don't live in the neighborhood. I do know my neighbors have objected strongly to turf and it seems reasonable to listen to Maplewood residents.
It's not a good fit for our community.
The amount outstanding will be longer than the life span of the turf( 8 years).
The TC needs to maintain the park whether it's turf or grass but grass is absolutely possible. The only reason it's not in good shape is the neglect. This park belongs to everyone who uses it, pays taxes and loves it and I am sad that so many people have been disregarded.
How many solutions have been explored? Multiple solutions including and compared to Turf? I could not find any. I understand it needs to be done but I am not happy with the lack of transparency, especially with this amount of money.
How did Turf get chosen? I have been here three years and this is new to me. -Megan G.
The environmental impact of artificial turf should be a deal breaker to a town that claims to be so environmentally conscious. This also smacks of environmental racism. The health of POC especially African Americans is already worse that for whites. The health of the Hilton community is a NEED. The desire for a more consistent field for sports is just a WANT. Please adjust your priorities. -Barbara V., Maplewood
The other day my kiddo went to hang outside with a friend (no indoors during COVID) and the place they go is, of course, DeHart. I mean there is no place else here for kids to play. He came home covered in grass. Apparently two middle schoolers decided to roll through the grass and laugh. I don't understand it, but the thought of it made me laugh too. Yes, he needed a shower, but it was grass. So, I wasn't worried about what he was covered in. I know he wouldn't roll around in plastic and crumb rubber. It saddens me that a private club wants to take away these small moments of carefree youth.
- Resident of the Lightning Brook section of Hilton
Alternatives to ‘Turfing’ DeHart Park
by Virginia Lamb
For the second time in 10 years, Maplewood finds itself with a ballot question on the installation of a synthetic turf field at DeHart Park in the Hilton neighborhood. We strongly oppose replacing natural grass with synthetic turf at DeHart Park, for cost, environmental, health and neighborhood environmental justice issues (see detailed position statements at www.dontturfdehart.com), but we recognize that there are passionate opinions held on both sides of the issue. Those opposed cite destruction of natural park space in Maplewood’s densest neighborhood and the related issues of environmental justice, the contribution of synthetic turf to global warming and climate change, and the chemical hazards that such synthetic materials may pose to young athletes and the environment, as well as the millions of dollars required to purchase, install, and eventually dispose of the plastic turf at the end of its useful life. Those in favor primarily cite substandard field conditions, which lead to decreased play time for Maplewood kids in a variety of team sports. Related issues include losses to children such as outdoor time and exercise.
Additional and better fields are necessary, but DeHart Park, a community park heavily used by residents of the neighborhood, is not the right place for a synthetic turf field. Here are some possible alternatives.
1. Improve the Quality of Existing Fields
Our communities need professional maintenance of the grass on the existing athletic fields. For too long there has been a scattershot approach to field maintenance and management, which has led to substandard conditions on most if not all fields. Maintaining grass fields properly is not complicated or expensive; it just takes good and consistent care which includes core aeration, top dressing with high quality compost, overseeding, fertilization, weed treatment and periodic resting of fields. The grass athletic fields provide valuable “ecosystem services” such as drainage, cooling and plant/soil carbon storage, services urgently needed to buffer our rapidly changing climate.
There are options available for private companies to provide these services. Municipal staff can also be trained and dedicated to the task. Maintenance has to be done annually and year-round. And the economics make sense: with the proposed $1.8 M synthetic field price tag, Maplewood could fund contracted maintenance of grass turf at DeHart at $40,000 per year for 45 years.
2. Consider Expanding Field Sharing with Surrounding Communities
Our communities should investigate further partnering with neighboring towns and nearby universities on field utilization, similar to what the CHS swim team does without a useable high school pool. For instance, Newark's United Parks as One is looking for ways to get many parks and fields in Newark to be better utilized. (firstname.lastname@example.org, 862-205-1197). Perhaps Kean University and/or Seton Hall University have field capacity that rec teams could use. This needs to be treated as a regional issue, as there is no need for every town to have all needed field capacity within its borders.
3. Explore Installing Synthetic Turf in Previously Developed Areas
Although, for environmental, health and social reasons, artificial turf is an inferior replacement for a grass turf field, especially in a community park, it could possibly be seen as an improvement to an existing commercial or industrial site. Finding and improving such hard scape and brownfield sites could also be part of a regional approach, cooperating with neighboring communities on potential sites and field inventories.
4. Consider Alternative Options for New Fields. Last, there is a need to think expansively about the future of Maplewood’s green spaces, including additional fields for sports. We should, for example, pay attention to and consider the status of the Maplewood Country Club golf course. Country clubs like this one are going out of business all over the country, and too often selling their vast open spaces to developers. Development of the entire course is impossible because of the designation of some of the space as flood lands, but turning even a significant portion of the course into hardscape could be a disaster for our limited open green space and would increase flood risk in the town. This available greenspace has the potential to greatly increase park space (and space for playing fields) in our town.
Neurotoxicants, Carcinogens, Mutagens and Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Artificial Turf
The City of Springfield, Mass. is using organic land care practices on school properties and 900 acres of public land