Editorial: Turf is the solution, not the problem

Posted 1/18/23

Some people in town would like other residents to believe that installing an artificial turf field in Barrington would be the worst, most horrible, insensitive, irresponsible thing the town could …

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Editorial: Turf is the solution, not the problem

Posted

Some people in town would like other residents to believe that installing an artificial turf field in Barrington would be the worst, most horrible, insensitive, irresponsible thing the town could do. 

In fact, the opposite is true. Installing an artificial turf field would move Barrington one step closer to building a conscientious, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective athletic facilities plan. 

An artificial turf field — let’s assume the turf is installed at Barrington High School’s Victory Field — would mean far less fertilizer and other chemicals being sprayed onto the grass playing surfaces located a stone’s throw from the Barrington River. Right now, maintenance of Victory Field is a year-round effort to keep the surface playable.

An artificial turf field would also help to curb the over-treatment of other athletic fields in town — look at the Chianese landfill fields. They were intended to serve as temporary backup spaces, but instead are used regularly as primary playing surfaces because the town does not have enough athletic fields. 

If the town had an artificial turf field, officials could move sports off of Chianese and onto the turf, offering some much-needed rest to the landfill fields. 

In addition to reducing chemical use on the town’s natural grass fields, a new artificial turf surface would cease the costly and burdensome habit of sending BHS athletic teams to practice at turf facilities in Seekonk and elsewhere. Most in town don’t realize that because some sports teams play almost all of their away games on artificial turf, they often raise money privately, rent field time at private facilities, and hold occasional practices on those surfaces, so they can be better prepared for 50 percent of their contests. Less driving means less gasoline and less emissions from the dozens of student cars driving half an hour away for practice.

Also, concerns about artificial turf infill have been quelled by the use of new environmentally-sensitive materials, including crushed walnut shells. The fields can be recycled, and the construction can be done in a manner to reduce chances of flooding. 

As for cost, let’s remember that a recent R.I. Public Expenditure Council report placed Rhode Island near the bottom of the 50 states for public spending on recreation. It also ranked Barrington in the bottom third for recreation spending among Rhode Island municipalities. Let that thought sink in for a moment … Barrington, which in many ways is the preeminent family community in Rhode Island, is one of the lowest spenders on recreation.

It is OK to spend public money on the public. 

And at last check, there are thousands of Barrington residents — yes, thousands — who would benefit from this investment in recreation. 

2023 by East Bay Media Group

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.