Don’t take a chance on synthetic turf

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To the Editor:

The following letter was submitted to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

I am writing to urge you to not permit the use of an artificial turf field in the new proposed high school athletic project. I ask you to review, and if necessary, further validate the testimony of Jerad Minnick that natural grass fields can be installed and maintained to a level satisfactory to the high school’s proposed use. Should you decide to approve the project, and that testimony proves valid, I ask that you condition the project to require 100 percent natural grass fields be incorporated.

For decades, the world used DDT as an insecticide — until we learned better. We used lead pipes to carry water — until we learned better. We used CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) as refrigerants — until we learned better. There are numerous additional products with similar stories. You have heard expert testimony regarding the possible side effects of an artificial turf field. I need not enumerate them here, but the point is, no one really knows for sure — and therefore, why even take a chance if a well-known, viable, safe (and cheaper) alternative is readily available?

My prior spoken testimony focused on the significant financial unknowns faced by the community if this project is approved as presented. I reiterate that argument here, and ask that you either determine definitively what those ongoing expenses will really be, or delay approval until those figures are truly known. But regardless, there is no good reason the broader community should have to worry about the — largely unknown — long-term side effects of artificial turf on Martha’s Vineyard. Thank you for your careful consideration.

Doug Ruskin

West Tisbury