Wayland must develop multi-year plan to rehabilitate grass fields – WaylandeNews
The following was submitted by Wayland resident Dave Bernstein, in response to this news article in the Wayland Student Press Network: Wayland builds a new grass field.
I am writing to address several errors in the “Wayland Builds New Grass Field” article published in the 2023-12-18 edition of Wayland eNews, and to provide a more comprehensive analysis of the tradeoffs between artificial turf fields and natural turf fields.
At Wayland’s annual city meeting in May 2021, Article 25 — construction of Locker’s artificial turf field — failed by a vote of 340 to 383 against. To pass this article, it was necessary to obtain a two-thirds majority (482 votes) in its favour.
At a special October 2021 Wayland City Meeting, Article 1 — a three-year moratorium on artificial/artificial turf fields — was approved by a vote of 353 to 77 against. At the same special town meeting, Article 2 — funding the design of a turf field in Locker — was approved by a vote of 327 to 120, more than the two-thirds majority needed.
These three results are the result of five facts:
- Artificial turf can be used for approximately 10 years, after which it must be disposed of. The average 80,000-square-foot field contains 40,000 pounds of plastic carpet and 400,000 pounds of rubber padding. This is a huge amount of pollution.
- As shown by NFL Players Association statistics, injury rates when playing on an artificial turf field are much higher than when playing on turf. Men’s and women’s soccer championship matches are played exclusively on grass.
- The surface temperature of an artificial turf field can rise from 40°F to 70°F above ambient temperature, causing blisters, burns, dehydration and heatstroke. Continuing climate change will reduce the number of days during which artificial turf fields can be used.
- Laboratory analysis of EPDM infill on a high school artificial turf field by the manufacturer shows the presence of two chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects. There is no safe level of exposure to these chemicals.
- As shown in these photos, the high school’s artificial turf field overflowed into the surrounding wetlands after major rainstorms, threatening our water supply and wildlife:
Wayland has 27 grass fields usable at any one time. Only 10 of them are irrigated, and 4 of those 10 require major repairs. Only a few of Wayland’s grass fields are established with proper drainage systems. The Department of Public Works lacks the resources – but not the desire – to properly maintain these areas. As a result, many of Wayland’s grass courts are in poor condition, putting players at risk of injury. Relatively new fields with effective drainage and irrigation perform well, but will eventually succumb to inadequate maintenance, as their predecessors did.
Wayland must develop a multi-year turf field rehabilitation plan — a series of steps that when completed over several years will put all Wayland turf fields in optimal condition, with adequate maintenance resources to keep them that way.
Combined with new, properly constructed turf fields – such as those that entered service at Loker – Wayland’s athletic field needs can be met. Poisoning our environment and ourselves with artificial turf fields is not the answer.