Synthetic field is the best play

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To the Editor:

This is an open letter to the Field Fund.

  • Synthetic turf has been found not be a health risk by the states of California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, and the country of Norway. I can provide these studies if you are interested.
  • A turf field is more expensive than one grass field, but can handle three times more uses than one grass field. When you compare the cost of one turf field vs. three grass fields over a 13-year period, turf is less expensive.
  • Synthetic turf fields are less damaging to the environment than grass fields. One grass field requires 2,000 pounds of fertilizer per year, and our fields are located within the Lagoon Pond watershed. Lagoon Pond is one of the great ponds most in danger from nitrogen loading in the state.
  • Concerning the charge that turf fields break down and place chemicals into the groundwater: What scientific evidence do you have to prove this statement? I can provide you with a two-year water quality study from an independent lab of water samples taken below a turf field. It was rainwater, with no chemicals.
  • You keep listing UMass Lowell Toxics Use Reduction Institute as a reason to avoid turf fields. Their own post stated that there have been no health problems found associated with turf fields.
  • You have blamed the school committee for an inability to reach a working agreement with your group. You are accusing them of reneging on their 10-year commitment to grass fields. This agreement was part of a quid pro quo that they would stay with grass and you would maintain all the existing grass fields, and fund building a new track with infield. The demands you made during the negotiations, turning control of the fields over to your group, and signing a contract to never have turf, could not be legally be agreed to by the school committee. Control of public property can not be given to a private party without a bill passing the Massachusetts House and Senate.

The Field Fund, not the school committee, withdrew from the negotiations last September in an email sent to the superintendent, Matt D’Andrea. This email is in the public record; I can provide it if you would like.

To date, the legal fees of this negotiation have cost the school over $27,000. I fail to see how this follows your stated purpose to help our kids.

The facts concerning the MV High School Fields are below.

  • We have six grass fields.
  • A grass field can handle a maximum of 250 uses per year, a use being one practice or game.
  • This equals a maximum of 1,500 uses per year for the six fields.
  • In 2016 there were 2,250 uses of the high school fields. This is 50 percent more than the fields can handle and survive.
  • The 250 maximum use is calculated with the field receiving the required attention. The high school does not have the available funds to provide this level of care.
  • Having been in construction for 46 years, and learning over the past three years the condition of the high school building, I am amazed what Mike Taus has been able to accomplish with himself and two employees. He doesn’t have the manpower to work on the buildings and give the fields the attention they require.
  • All grass fields will not work.
  • One turf field can handle 700 uses per year. Adding to that 1,250 uses per year from the remaining grass fields equals 1,950 uses per year, not enough but much closer to our needs.

I am asking the Island community to look at the facts to reach a decision on the correct direction for this project.

Terry Donahue
Edgartown