Letter: Concerns about installing artificial turf fields

Posted 1/24/23

To the editor:

In last week’s Barrington Times, the editor makes the argument that an artificial turf field is the solution to our athletic field problems. He claims that installing a turf …

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Letter: Concerns about installing artificial turf fields

Posted

To the editor:

In last week’s Barrington Times, the editor makes the argument that an artificial turf field is the solution to our athletic field problems. He claims that installing a turf field at Barrington High School would be environmentally friendlier and require less maintenance than the current grass field. He claims that installing a turf field would allow us to move sports off Chianese fields.

These claims are not supported by the work of the Ad Hoc Athletic Fields Advisory Committee as detailed in their October 2021 report. The report clearly states that replacing Victory Field with an artificial turf field would be “without any tangible benefit to the youth sports league athletes that suffer the brunt of the Town’s athletic field limitations.” The Committee’s recommendation is to focus further planning on the BHS fields directly adjacent to County Road. This location would require additional costs such as lighting and spectator and player amenities. In addition, its proximity to the Barrington River brings up many other concerns and would most likely be subject to CRMC review and approval. Artificial turf fields need to be specially designed if they are to be installed in a flood zone. I don’t believe that has been taken into consideration in the rough estimate of $3.8 million in the Committee report.

I have many concerns about the idea of installing artificial turf fields. Claims that newer turf manufacturing processes allow for the recycling of turf fields are speculative. We don’t know if that will be true 10 years from now, but we do know that at this time turf fields in RI, no matter how they are manufactured, are taken to the Johnston Landfill. There are now infill materials that claim to be more environmentally friendly and have fewer toxins, but each has its own challenges from freezing to allergy concerns. There are still many unanswered questions about health and safety risks, and more professional athletes and players unions are speaking out about their desire to play on natural grass fields.

I agree that Barrington should invest in more athletic fields and allocate more resources for field maintenance. There are way too many unanswered questions to conclude that turf fields should be a part of that plan, and with all that we know about Barrington’s vulnerabilities to climate change and sea level rise, it’s crazy to think about spending millions on an artificial turf field less than 250 feet from the Barrington River.

Kristen Kreuzkamp 

Barrington

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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.