The following public comment was submitted to the Amherst Town Council on October 17, 2022.
I write in respect to the ARHS Track and Fields FY23 Supplemental Budget Appropriation of $900,000, on your agenda this evening, 10/17/22.
I support the appropriation so long as there is a stipulation that the funding only apply to an option that includes natural turf: Option 2 (Relocate the Track to a North/South orientation with a Natural Turf playing field interior), or Option 1A or 1B (Resurface Existing Track / Enlarge interior field).
I do not support the use of town funds for synthetic turf. (Option 3 – Relocate the Track to a North/ South orientation with a Synthetic Turf playing field interior).
I understand the relative advantages of synthetic turf but the health and environmental concerns outweigh any advantages, in my opinion. The presence of PFAS “forever chemicals” in synthetic turf make it a path I do not think Amherst should pursue. The fact that synthetic turf also costs $1 million more than natural turf is another reason to go with Option 2, assuming the fundraising campaign is successful in raising another $1 million.
Here are some articles on the presence of PFAS in synthetic turf. Many towns/cities are moving to ban the installation of synthetic turf, including Boston, Sharon, Wayland, Concord, Malden, and Martha’s Vineyard.
If the Amherst Board of Health has not yet looked into the safety of synthetic turf, now would be a good time for a Town Council referral asking that the Board look into it further since the high school project, and now also the elementary school project, propose a synthetic turf field in the plans.
Toni Cunningham is a frequent writer for the Indy, primarily on schools and town finance.