The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Artificial Turf issue

It is unclear whether or not the Department of Parks & Recreation has plans to install artificial turf at Highland Park/Ridgewood Reservoir. However they have installed 77 synthetic fields and there are 23 more under construction. Commissioner Benepe has stated several times that he believes it is a much better alternative to natural grass.

There has been an interesting development regarding the parks departments knowledge of the turf's safety health issues. The following is from an article in today's the New York Times:

"For more than a decade, the city’s Parks Department has extolled the environmental and safety benefits of replacing the grass or asphalt at dozens of its play spaces with synthetic material made from recycled tires, despite safety concerns expressed by some scientists and children’s advocates.

But on Tuesday, the department said it had asked the city health department to investigate potential health and safety problems associated with the synthetic material, even as it continued to insist the surfaces were safe.

“Understandably, there has been significant public interest in this issue, and we responded by asking the N.Y.C. department of health to look further into the issues,” the Parks Department said in a statement. “There is no public health danger at any of these fields.”"

The same article sites a parks internal memo that acknowledges known problems with the turf. This is from a similar article in Metro NY:

The debate over the city’s growing use of artificial turf took a surreal turn yesterday, after a watchdog group obtained an internal Parks Dept. memo that seemed to make New York the first city in America to declare a turf moratorium.

“We are suspending the use of rubber infill synthetic turf in all Parks Capital Projects,” said the design directive, dated Jan. 14.

The memo appeared to be a reaction to increasing health concerns over the new breed of artificial turf, which uses rubber pellets from recycled tires. These pellets contain chemicals that have been linked to cancer, birth defects and other problems, yet most studies conclude more research is necessary to determine the possible risks. The city’s Health Dept. is preparing its own report.

But after the memo was revealed by the group NYC Park Advocates, the city replied it had made a mistake.

“I incorrectly made a blanket statement,” said Deputy Commissioner of Capital Projects Amy Freitag. “There is no change in Parks Dept.’s policy on synthetic turf.”

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