Give grass a chance


To the Editor:

On Monday, May 16, the school committee will hold a public forum about the proposed new athletic fields at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). The project, spearheaded by MV@Play, represents an amazing amount of time and energy. While I appreciate the dedication to the cause and the desire for our kids to have the best of athletic resources, I believe we need more discussion, research, and fact-finding before the school committee gives its approval to start Phase 1.

While there has been a concession to use organic infill for the field rather than crumb rubber, that doesn’t go far enough to protect the health of the athletes and our aquifer. The science about AstroTurf can be confusing, but one thing is clear — it is not safe, may cause cancer and staph infections, and heightens the severity of sports injuries. As for the aquifer, we know that chemicals leach through sand at a high rate; we know that MVRHS is sited over the aquifer. We don’t know which chemicals either in the AstroTurf or those used to sanitize it will find their way into our water supply. One has to wonder what the long-term effects of that will be on everyone’s health.

There are a multitude of unanswered questions. I realize that the track needs to be repaired, at the least, in the next year. But rushing into Phase 1, and installing AstroTurf, is not a good solution. More exploration of how to make natural fields work is necessary. We, as a community, want our athletes to have facilities they can be proud of. Shouldn’t we also want them to know their community will do all we can to insure their future health? Please, members of the school committee, vote to put this project on hold pending further research and consultation with experts in using natural turf instead of AstroTurf.

Susan Desmarais
Oak Bluffs