RHINEBECK, NY— The city council plans to buy artificial turf for the soccer field at Thompson-Mazzarella Park is met with opposition, fearing the material could eventually become an environmental hazard.
The matter was raised during a videoconference meeting on Monday, February 28. Resident Eleanor Pupko said end-of-life disposal plans should be reviewed before installing the playing surface.
“There was a turf fire in Woodland, California at a facility that accepts used turf,” she said. “It was like burning a bunch of tires.”
Pupko said the New York State Department of Health found that the surface temperature of artificial turf emits more heat than natural grass. The warmer conditions were seen as detrimental to the environment and raised the question of whether it could injure players using the pitches.
“No studies (were) found that looked at the role of synthetic turf and its contribution to heat stress,” she said.
Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia said there were concerns about the potential impact of the pitch on the players.
“We have received several emails from people still expressing concern about artificial turf as studies show (a) significant increase in sports injuries and cost differences,” she said.
Pupko also asked if discussions about installing lights had fully considered the effect on residents.
“Are we building a stadium or building a ballpark? she asked. “Will this be another county fair where residents don’t have access and kids can’t play a football game, where cars come and go for tournaments, causing a further drop in quality of life of the villagers?
Council members suspended voting on approving an $800,000 bond for the $1.36 million soccer field until a technical study is completed.
“We’re getting a protocol in place … on how to properly remove, dispose of and recycle the turf field at the end of its life in 12 to 14 years,” Councilor Josh Pulver said.
Officials had said they expected to launch the bidding process within the next two months and begin construction by the summer.