Letters From The Public About The Relative Virtues Of Artificial Turf And Grass


Installing synthetic turf. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It wasn’t long ago that the Town Council was split about the responsibilities of police officers and the rights of teenagers, and that a joint meeting with the Community Safety and Social Justice Committee (CSSJC) related to the July 5 incident involving local young people and local police officers, was effectively ended by a town councilor to halt consideration of a motion proposing a win-win solution. Most of the councilors were too upset to move on to the next issue on the agenda. The issue, about funding to re-do one of the athletic fields at the high school, seemed mundane at that moment.

Now, it’s back, and it’s another issue splitting the town and the Town Council. Like the July 5 incident we have once again seen a town councilor invoke her right to end debate and postpone a vote. Like the July 5 incident and its long aftermath, artificial turf vs. natural grass has evolved into discussions of process, priorities, and respect. How should issues be researched, worded, and debated before decisions are made? What if new information comes along that casts a shadow over a previous vote? How cautious should the town be about health and environmental issues?

Last week, the Council approved funding for artificial turf, with an amendment that gives an opening for natural grass. Now, some residents of Shutesbury, Leverett, and Pelham, who are part of the regional educational system, are getting involved and will be voting, at their Town Meetings on whether they will contribute to the project.

The Indy wanted to know more, so we explored recent letters in the town archives (public comments on the question of artificial turf vs natural grass athletic fields Nov 15 to Dec 5, 2022 ). Of the 30 or so letters from members of the public between November 21 and December 5, 2022, we counted 11 letters in favor of installing artificial turf, l8 letters favoring natural grass (at least, for now), and one advocating for additional information. Here are a sampling of the letters.

Yes To Artificial Turf (about 36% of comments)

Public Comment
Submission Date: 11/21/2022 7:12:12 PM
Name: Marcus Smith

This October, I had the distinct privilege of umpiring the women’s field hockey senior game this year. Yet I was appalled by the state of the playing surface that was provided by the school for the competition. I mean, I shouldn’t have been appalled, field conditions at the school have been this way at least for the 8 odd years that I have lived in the town. A bad field is not only outside the spirit of the game, its positively dangerous. Speaking with the athletic staff, they bemoaned the level of injuries to ankles and the like, across all sports, from just the field, let alone the game itself.

I have coached the field hockey team, and now umpire field hockey in the local area, Amherst is renown in the area for its terrible quality fields. Back when I was coaching, the excuse was that the town did not have the equipment necessary for the provision of a compliant surface. This never changed. In fact, the head coach at the time brought her own lawn mower in to at least try to get the grass down to the required maximum 1.5 inches in length.

Now Amherst’s tale of grass surfaces is not alone in this area, but Amherst’s surfaces are amongst the worst. So much so that the field hockey umpiring assignor, has stopped forwarding complaints of the playing surface to the school, knowing that nothing will change. But why doesn’t it change? It pretty much comes down to money. The town and school district does not put the money into the grounds, that is required to bring the quality close to that of an artificial surface. There are school districts in the are that come close:

1. Frontier: they run their fields like a golf course, with all the infrastructure and investment that that requires, using chemical fertilizers and weedkillers, along with copious irrigation.

2. Greenfield: uses unethical and under or unpaid labor from incarcerated individuals

3. Smith Academy: again, this district invests in their surfaces just as at Frontier.

So how do we, Amherst, get to this level? Use prison labor? Use copious amounts of chemicals? Yet even this cannot guarantee a playing surface. Even these bastions of good athletic fields cannot provide fields that can cope with the modern usage requirements while they adapt to the changing climate. This year, the frontier field was not available for all the game, with the goal mouths being challenging, in addition.

The one way you can provide the necessary usage for athletics is to utilize low-PFAS artificial surfaces. The high school provides some excellent athletic opportunities for students, but that is adversely affected by the quality and availability of the playing surfaces, across the sports available. A rounded education specifically includes the access to opportunities outside of academic. Without that access, we are hamstringing the development of the potential for every student on our campuses. I urge you to vote in the affirmative, to bring 1 low-PFAS athletic surface to the high school, to free student’s development to its fullest.

Public Comment
Submission Date: 11/29/2022 10:25:52 AM
Name: Sarah Marshall

Some of you can not see the forest for the trees, as indicated by allowing concern over hypothetical health risks posed by some chemicals that may be present in artificial turf to outweigh the obvious and real benefits to students of proceeding with a track and fields project that will encourage and support athletics. Low-level exposure to PFAS is ubiquitous in the US (see the chart at https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/us-population.html ) and preventing construction of an artificial turf field in Amherst is unlikely to change anyone’s exposure significantly.

Moreover, Town Council is not responsible for every last decision in Amherst. You should not be second-guessing the choices of the Regional School Committee any more than you should have been second-guessing the decisions of the Jones Library Trustees several months ago. Do you also intend to pick apart the decisions of the Elementary School Building Committee in a few months and kill the project because you are displeased with some aspects of the school design?

Please show deference to the decisions of other elected bodies and do not arrogate their responsibilities. And please don’t pretend to be toxicologists. Call on our local Health Department if you have concerns. Refer concerned residents to the Regional School Committee.

Public Comment
Submission Date: 12/2/2022 9:36:50 AM
Name: Carrie Saunders

My name is Carrie Saunders. I am the mom of 3 past and present ARHS student athletes. My son, Jackson Hinkel, was on the track team and a few years ago, while running with his team in track practice, Jackson tripped on the track and broke his collarbone. An ambulance came, gave him fentanyl and rushed him to the ER. It was very scary to see him in so much pain and completely out of it. It was nice that the principal, AD, coach and nurse all reached out to make sure he was okay. Later, when I more closely examined the track I was appalled that the kids are actually running on a track with all sorts of divets, holes and patches. It is completely unsafe. It is an accident minefield that we should not be exposing any kids to. The students deserve a safe place to train without the risk of serious injury. And, of course, these students deserve the required 8 lane track to host meets. I am 100% in favor of putting in a new 8 lane track at ARHS.

As for the soccer field, my daughter Ella Hinkel is currently a sophomore at ARHS. She has played soccer since grade school, varsity soccer since 8th grade and also plays on club teams. The fields at the high school are overused. More and more schools are changing to turf fields that don’t need time off, or get rained out. With the amount of money in taxes Amherst residents are paying, our kids deserve to have useable fields that are available for all sports. So many practices get cancelled at ARHS because the fields are rained out. Turf fields don’t get rained out – they have better drainage and they don’t get muddy and you can’t ruin turf fields by playing on them in the rain. It all adds up to not missing valuable playing time during the season. This is important to all our student athletes who are are taking their sports very seriously and/or have aspirations to play in college. Our fields are a disadvantage to them. While plenty of other student athletes at neighboring towns are getting the all advantages given to them because they are playing on turf fields. Our student athletes deserve the same advantages as other student athletes from other towns (towns that don’t have as high a tax bracket as Amherst!) I am 100% in favor of putting in new fields, additional fields, and one turf field at ARHS. We are talking about one out of 5 fields being a turf field. Any student should have the right to not practice on the one turf field if that student desires. It should not affect the entire student athlete population.

Public Comment
Submission Date: 12/2/2022 2:39:56 PM
Name: Renata Shepard

Please approve the ARHS track and field project! All information has been researched and explained already. There are greener, low PFAS turf solutions with less environmental impact than grass chemicals and water waste. Please level the “playing field” for our students!

Public Comment
Submission Date: 12/3/2022 7:19:41 PM
Name: John Staudenmayer

My wife and I are parents of two kids, one who graduated from ARHS in 2021 and one who is currently in the high school. They have played a number of sports at the high school, including both soccer, ultimate, and track.

I’m writing to comment about the risks associated with artificial grass and tire crumbs. Because this is a complicated issue, and because I have seen and heard a number of factually inaccurate claims shared, I want to share my relevant professional credentials. I am a professor in the department of Mathematics and Statistics at UMass. I have a PhD from Cornell in Operations Research with a concentration in Epidemiology. As a graduate student, my tuition and salary were paid by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences – a division of the NIH. I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Chan Harvard School of Public Health, and that was also paid for by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. I review international grant proposals for the NIH a few times a year, and I have research funding from the National Cancer Institute. I think that I am an established expert at assessing environmental cancer risk factors.

I think that there are two concerns – the chemicals in the tire crumb and PFAS in the artificial grass. As others have noted, there are ways to make a turf field without “tire crumb” and also with minimal PFAS in the artificial grass. Pursuing both those alternatives seems sensible. That path forward seems very conservative and sensible in terms of public health. (Let’s do that!) Because so much of the discussion here has centered on concerns about PFAS in particular though, I do want to address that issue, even though it seems possible to minimize or even eliminate that specific risk.

There are websites / environmental groups that say that ATFs (Artificial Turf Fields) are dangerous because of both the crumb and because of PFAS on the fake grass. I have read a few of those sites, and my professional opinion is that they are not generally scientifically credible. I’m not saying that they are lying, but their claims have have not been vetted by independent scientific review. A website I do find credible though is from the MA Department of Public Health, which says, “To date, scientific research mostly concludes that adverse health effects from using ATF are unlikely.” As some have noted the City of Boston banned new turf for city controlled playgrounds, they did not ban ATF for high school fields. That ban did not come from the MA Department of Public Health.

Known and possible carcinogens are prevalent in everyday life. For instance, cars are *full* of carcinogens, but many of us still drive. Doing our best to minimize the amount of synthetic, nondegradable plastic we put into the environment seems like a sensible goal (this is why I strongly support the better versions of turf others have proposed), but as with all decisions, we should assess the tradeoffs without being distracted by alarming claims that are not supported by science.

Finally, I note that it IS well established that physical activity and exercise reduce cancer risks. Not improving our track and field is likely to lead to less activity by our kids (and by townspeople who regularly use these facilities as well), and it seems likely that this is the much larger health risk.

Public Comment
Submission Date: 12/2/2022 6:27:27 PM
Name: Ella

I’m a student at ARHS and i strongly believe we need a turf field because so many of the other schools have them. My soccer team has missed so many practices from the condition of our field. People have gotten injured countless times from the mud and holes in the field. A lot of my teammates and I have aspirations to play in college and i think our field is definitely holding us back compared to other schools.

YES TO GRASS (about 60%)

Public Comment
Submission Date: 11/22/2022 1:29:01 AM
Name: Felicia Mednick

HI. My name is Felicia Mednick. I’ve lived at 137 State Street in District 1 for around 27 years.

I’m one of several members of the Amherst Climate Justice Alliance that are here to speak to you tonight. We are a newly formed coalition of about 10 local groups who care deeply about the climate crisis: Amherst Sunrise, UMass Sunrise, Greater Amherst Mothers Out Front, Extinction Rebellion, Climate Action Now, Progressive Coalition of Amherst, Zero Waste Amherst, Unitarian Universalist Society Green Sanctuary Committee, the Earth Ministry Team of First Congregational Church Amherst, UCC, and the Jewish Community of Amherst Green Team.

We see ourselves as advocates for the good intentions of Amherst to follow through with our Climate Action and Resiliency Plan and its goals for 2025, 2030, on our way to full decarbonization no later than 2050. So we will advocate for reduced greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, as well as increased carbon sequestration, while at the same time promoting climate justice here and in the communities our emissions impact, while lifting up all voices.

Amherst has set very important climate goals. But we cannot hope to meet those goals without doubling our staff — to 2 people! Amherst didn’t meet our climate goals for 2022. A few members of the Amherst Climate Justice Alliance met with Stephanie and Paul a few weeks ago, confirming all the work they ARE doing, and sharing some of our concerns. Even though Stephanie hires some student help, no matter how talented they are, they can’t provide the ongoing history and expertise and relationships that are necessary to achieve our climate goals. And they don’t have the time to research and apply for grants, which could bring in a lot of money for future budgets. Paul encouraged us to come to the Town Council Budget meetings and request for another staff person to work with Stephanie, because the Town Council, not the Town Manager, is in charge of those decisions. So here we are!

Some examples for 2023 goals that will be helped by more staff include:

Speeding up our application for Community Choice Aggregation.

Ensuring robust resident participation for the new climate dashboard that will be built.

Working with property owners to retrofit multifamily and apartment rentals, WHILE preventing displacements by using the C-PACE program.

And more staff can set the stage for meeting our 2024 goals by beginning research in:

Financing tools for LOCALLY sourced renewable energy

RESOURCES for homeowners to get full home energy retrofits (right now ARPA funds are only for heat pumps)

The feasibility of Amherst having net-zero retrofits for ALL existing buildings, similar to what Ithaca NY is now doing.

Because if we can’t do it in Amherst, what is the hope for the larger world?

Public Comment
Name: Judith Eiseman, Pelham Planning Board Chair
Date: December 3, 2022
Subject: Opposition to Artificial Turf for High School track and field

My take on this issue is based on an understanding of the complexity of environmental concerns born of many years spent learning about and working on wetland, water supply, and water pollution issues. You will find a short biography at the end.

A sincere effort to balance the interests of the environment with other concerns requires full attention to the complexity of environmental systems as they have become intertwined with the built environment. Over the years balancing has generally resulted in a thumb placed on the scale on the side of social and monetary concerns, then adding forceful arguments to sell a particular position. It always results in health or environmental loss and fewer environmental elements and values to balance in the next round.

Simply talking about the hazards of pollution and climate change is not enough. That is virtue signaling minus positive action. We must change our way of doing business and learn what is available with environmentally sound, if difficult, decision making. As a member of Pelham’s CPA Committee I have been actively engaged [in] discussions about the turf question. I would like to bring your attention to the following and ask a few questions:

The PFAS Task Force Report (2022) from a group of appointed scientists, medical experts, municipal officials, and stakeholders brought together by the legislature found multiple reasons to ban the use of artificial turf. Health Boards, including Pelham’s, are taking up the issue, but I hope they avoid adding the words “to the extent feasible” because that is the old loophole that makes pollution possible.

CPA funds cannot be used for artificial turf although they can be used for the infrastructure around it (this amendment passed in 2012.) This is a typical balancing act on the part of the legislature and many communities have made use of this loophole. So our water supply loses again because artificial turf advocates still promote it despite its demonstrable damaging effect on athletes and the environment.

Part of the reason for using synthetic turf on the track infield is to cure the wetness problem evident particularly in March and April; as climate change progresses that may change. Why not just spend some money on eliminating that problem [rather than] use natural turf? Topographical and hydrological issues probably are the source of this problem —the field and track were built near or over Tan Brook and associated wetlands! Clearly the field could not be legally located there today. I am reluctant to advocate altering a wetland further, but given the choice between contamination or filling an already degraded area, it is preferable.

Among other items, the APRHS Track Scenario Technical Memorandum identified benefits, drawbacks and other considerations for each scenario along with the probable costs, lifespan, and hours of play for natural vs. artificial turf. Key to me was a bullet reading “Identification of other possible public perception challenges and approaches to mitigate same.” [Emphasis mine.]

It is the marketing of the project despite its environmental challenges that I find particularly distressing. Once the public’s heart is bleeding over the alleged mental health and physical needs of students, it is far easier to explain away the higher actual costs and persuade folks that their environmental qualms are unimportant.

Reorienting the field to N/S makes sense to me. At first, natural turf was posited as the option with a potential upgrade to artificial turf eventually. Another option was just to head to the artificial turf at the outset.

Each successive option increased the project cost but the reasons for choosing artificial over natural turf appear to be based largely upon (1) the potentially increased numbers of hours available for use per year and (2) perceived maintenance costs for natural turf being higher. A sales pitch is added claiming that this is the best option for our kids. This leaves out the continuing and increased environmental damage as well as the testimony from professional and amateur athletes about risks, and most information citing the problems with recycling and replacement along with the hazards and costs associated with disposal. Instead, the essential argument is that “everyone else is doing it and our kids are therefore being disadvantaged”. This is nonsense. Head and other injuries and health issues are well documented and the maintenance costs are in dispute. The costs of replacement and disposal should not be ignored as they are likely to increase.

According to a 2021 factsheet released by TURI (Toxic Use Reduction Institute) at UMass Lowell: “Natural grass fields can provide a protective, high-performance surface for athletic activities. Organic field maintenance practices can improve the health of soil and grass without the need for synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. These practices include frequent aeration, frequent mowing, soil testing, and use of organic fertilizers and soil amendments. Communities and schools can accommodate a wide range of recreational activities on their athletic fields by building healthy, balanced soil and a strong root system. Organically managed natural grass fields serve as an affordable, practical and safer alternative to artificial turf.”

7. What other options have been considered? What’s the rush? Is it all about the money after all? Claims that other natural substances like “corkonut” might be used bring their own environmental concerns. How wise and how costly might it be to replace natural forests or farm fields with these substitute crops? Also, just being lower in PFAS isn’t a viable position long term.

Might it be possible to purchase a piece of land elsewhere or to eliminate or move a parking lot?

It is obvious that failure to maintain and rehabilitate this area in a timely manner over the years is part of the cause and a signal to a future need. Is a solution to poor maintenance, i.e., budgeted money, going to be available to maintain whatever is done here?

Cherry picking where we will pollute “for good cause” and where we will try to mitigate or remediate is an outdated solution to an ever increasing crisis. Folks who see this as just another use of PFAS or other chemicals that are still in use elsewhere are missing the point. Cleaning the environment and halting further pollution is essential for public health.

Using any CPA monies for other parts of a project that includes artificial turf essentially supports a project that is otherwise damaging. Something like being “a little bit pregnant.”

The desire expressed to me by one booster “to equalize the playing field for our student athletes and keep a balanced approach to addressing not just physical well-being but also emotional and mental health” ignores the athletes who have set records and received scholarships and improved skills for hundreds of years without artificial turf. There are many ways for the athletes to gain these skills; the rest of our kids (the majority?) who are not competing really don’t require this extra million or so to be spent when other options that have been laid aside can be made viable again.

We can no longer have it all. We never really could and it’s past time to act upon this reality.

Brief Biography: I have raised three children in Amherst/Pelham Schools, and for one 45 years have been involved with local, regional, and state land use and environmental concerns. Having started in the 1970s as a member, then Chair of the Conservation Commission and Planning Board, I again chair Pelham’s Planning Board and serve as its representative to the CPA Committee. Between my current and earlier terms in town government, I have been retained as a consultant on environmental, land use, non-profit board development, and citizen-action issues. I remain in an advisory role and serve on two committees of the Kestrel Land Trust, having served on its board for 30+ years.

Among other volunteer positions and activities, I served as a Trustee of the Water Supply Protection Trust which oversees budget and operations relating to the Quabbin Reservoir. I also served on the Massachusetts Highway Department Highway Design Manual Revision Committee with the goal of requiring implementation of context-sensitive design principles. I am a Past President of Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions and represented MACC on the Wetlands Banking Advisory Committee, DEP Agriculture/Aquaculture Regulations Committee, and others relating to river and wetland protection. I have also served on the Board of the MassRivers Alliance, Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters, and the Water Supply Protection Trust (WSCAC), and have filled various roles with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

Public Comment
Submission Date: 12/3/2022 10:24:25 PM
Name: Adriana
As a parent and resident of Amherst I am writing to request that you do [not] bring artificial turf into our community. As a progressive community, we should make decisions that better our environment as we face drastic climate changes, please vote No to artificial plastic turf on our athletic fields. Not only is it bad for our environment to invest in plastic fields, but also for the health and well-being of our children and community athletes as it has been stated among many that astro turf leads to more sport injuries.

Please listen to the concerns of your citizens and support us in voting No.

Thank you for your time and commitment to bettering our community,

Public Comment
Submission Date: 12/4/2022 4:49:20 PM
Name: Kurt Wise

I am writing to encourage you, very strongly, to undertake a full and fully-transparent review, including robust public input, of the decision to replace grass playing fields at the high school with artificial turf fields. Numerous people, in our community and in many other communities, have raised legitimate concerns about artificial turf. It appears that earlier decisions by the Town Council and School Committee were made in the absence of complete knowledge regarding the many, possibly serious health and safety risks – not to mention environmental costs – associated with artificial turf. Now that town decision makers are aware of these risks and costs, it is essential they educate themselves fully, and consider community feedback seriously, before moving forward.

Based on the information I have seen, it seems clear that the most obvious approach is also the best one: plant our new playing fields with natural grass. However, some members of our community have voiced strong support for the use of artificial turf. The only way to make a responsible choice between these two approaches is to pause the decision making process until the necessary information and expertise has been gathered, shared, discussed and debated publicly. I urge members of the Town Council and other relevant town bodies to initiate that review process as soon as possible – and, regardless of how long such a process takes, complete it before any further action is taken with regards to authorizing funding for replacement of these fields.

In closing, I will underscore that, absent a very high degree of certainty that a) artificial turf produces no increased health or safety risks for players and the community at large relative to natural grass, in both the near and the long term, and b) that artificial turf is at least as environmentally-friendly as natural grass over the lifetime of its use and disposal, decision makers must default to the time-tested choice: stick with natural grass. Any other choice would be deeply irresponsible and a breach of the trust the community has placed in them. Thank You, Kurt Wise 31 Maplewood Dr.

Public Comment
Submission Date: 12/4/2022 7:46:11 PM
Name: Peggy Matthews-Nilsen
Amherst Town Councilors, I am writing to urge you to vote NO on Synthetic Turf for the Amherst athletic fields. This is one of those decisions that should NOT be based on cost over the health and safety of children. A cursory review of recent data on synthetic turf shows it is not safe from either a health or environmental standpoint. Also, the cost of synthetic turf is NOT cheaper than natural turf when you consider the fact that synthetic turf must be replaced every 7-10 years and cannot be recycled, adding its toxic contents to our landfills. It is unfortunate that the Amherst School Committee supported synthetic turf despite knowledge of its dangerous chemicals, increased incidence of injuries to athletes and the fact that synthetic turf becomes 20º to 50º degrees hotter than natural grass in the sun, not an insignificant factor given the rising temperatures with climate change.

Please avoid a serious mistake that would be with us for years by voting against synthetic turf and instead, supporting a natural grass turf with adequate funding for its ongoing maintenance.

Public Comment
Submission Date: 12/3/2022 4:50:39 PM
Name: Janet and Gaylord Saulsberry
It is our understanding that the subject of the renovation of the regional athletic fields may be revisited at the Town Council meeting on Monday, December 5, 2022. The science in opposition to artificial turf containing ANY level of PFAS is well documented and was clearly presented to the Council at its previous meeting. The installation of artificial turf containing PFAS is such a controversial topic that it has been banned in all public parks in Boston and is currently the subject of law suits in several Massachusetts school districts.

During the last discussion on this topic, one councilor stated that a vote against the turf installation is a vote AGAINST the students. In fact, a vote against turf installation containing PFAS is in reality a vote FOR the long term health and welfare of the students. One Booster member has stated that low PFAS options are available for the turf. One has to wonder if there is a level low enough to prevent equally “low levels” of the numerous diseases such as cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and asthma as outlined by the CDC, Harvard School of Public Health, and countless other research and health groups. We hope that no one is willing to take that risk in the name of expediency.

We do not deny that the regional athletic fields are in need of renovation. We urge the Council to strongly consider the grass option presented by the Superintendent of Schools and the Athletic Director. With proper installation and maintenance of grass fields, the region could become a model for other systems grappling with the issue of installation of artificial turf containing any level of PFAS.

More Information Is Needed
Public Comment
Submission Date: 12/2/2022 2:09:17 PM
Name: Nancy Gilbert, RN, BS. MS, PhD

I am writing as a town member and a public health nurse. Although I am the Chair of the Board of Health, this does NOT reflect the views of Board of Health members. The conditions of the playing fields at the Amherst Regional High School and safety issues must be addressed!

I was both surprised and perplexed as I reviewed the Town Council Agenda for Monday December 5, 2022. Specifically agenda item 8.a: “Reconsideration of November 21, 2022 Town Council vote: Appropriating Funds for a Portion of the Town of Amherst Capital Program – School Track and Field Rehabilitation.”

My surprise and reason for being perplexed is due to the fact that at a Joint Meeting of the Finance Committee and Town Council, there was a verbal request for the Amherst Board of Health to examine the issue of artificial turf. To my knowledge the Amherst Board of Health only received a verbal request via town communication channels. I am neither aware of nor have seen a written request. The Board of Health has artificial turf on its December 8, 2022 meeting agenda. Due to open meeting laws the Board of Health members cannot discuss this topic until our meeting.

I cannot speak for other Board of Health Members. I can only speak for myself. However, bypassing the Board of Health’s input undermines the work of the board.

Implications of artificial turf on both health and the environment are being researched. Other cities and towns have been spending time and funding exploring issues surrounding the use of artificial turf to make sure the best decision is made. There are long-term affects related to artificial turf. We, as a town, must take our time in making sure that the best choice is made.

I am asking you to postpone your discussion and vote on artificial turf funding until your December 19 meeting and the Board of Health’s meeting on December 8. As I noted earlier, this communication does not represent the other Board of Health members, nor do I know the actions related to artificial turf that the Board will take at the December 8 meeting.

I will not be able to attend the Town Council’s December 5 meeting. I will be meeting at that time with 5 Public Health students from the University of Massachusetts who are working with the Board of Health on a Community Health Assessment for the Town of Amherst.

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3 thoughts on “Letters From The Public About The Relative Virtues Of Artificial Turf And Grass

  1. Thank you for digging out and sharing these letters, Kitty, for bringing such well-expressed views of our community members into the light of day. Thirty letters in just two weeks! Clearly, just because we don’t hear these voices as loudly nowadays, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Kudos to you and to the Indy for this public service.

  2. I too wanted to know what level of support there was for and against artificial turf so I did something similar to Kitty, going through all comments submitted to the Town Council and all comments offered live during the two Council meetings when the topic was on the agenda.

    To date, the tally of unique individuals that weighed in on artificial turf is as follows:
    114 For Artificial Turf (49.35%) [For Option 3/Artificial Turf Interior Field]
    117 Against Artificial Turf (50.65%) [For Option 2/Natural Grass Interior Field]
    A total of 231 different people. If that’s “a handful of people,” they are some very large hands. 🙂

    * A number of individuals communicated multiple times and in different ways. Each individual is counted once in the numbers above.
    ** I did not include the five individuals who spoke at the Town Council meeting on 12/5 against artificial turf who do not live in Amherst/Pelham/Leverett/Shutesbury.

    In addition to the individuals who sent an email or signed their name to a letter or spoke for themselves, the following groups expressed an opinion:

    Against Artificial Turf:
    Amherst Climate Justice Alliance
    Climate Action Now
    Extinction Rebellion
    First Church Amherst, UCC Earth Ministry Team
    Greater Amherst Mothers Out Front
    Jewish Community of Amherst Green Team
    Progressive Coalition of Amherst
    Sunrise Amherst
    Sunrise UMass
    Zero Waste Amherst

    In Favor of Artificial Turf:
    Amherst Forward
    ARHS Varsity Field Hockey Team
    ARHS Girls JV and Varsity Soccer Teams
    ARHS Boys JV and Varsity Soccer teams
    ARHS Girls Cross Country team

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