Just say no to artificial turf

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Park board members:

I urge you to vote "no" Thursday evening for the artificial turf component that is being considered for Stevenson Park. I am not only concerned about the possible health risks for children who would use the field — particularly the smaller kids who will come into more contact with the synthetic material — but also for the village's increasing loss of open space with natural landscaping.

The bad environmental news we are getting almost daily requires us to consider seriously what the environmental impacts of our actions are. We may not have a lot of control over what happens on a national or global scale, but we have complete control over the decisions we make here in Oak Park. I believe those decisions should be grounded in maintaining our parks in accordance with sound environmental practices.

My family lives at 124 S. East Ave., 1 block south of the high school. We have lost two major fields to synthetic turf on school grounds, we will be losing the large field and sledding hill at Ridgeland Common to synthetic turf, and now perhaps the Stevenson field also. We lost the stairs at the high school bleachers, now closed to the public, and now the stairs at the Ridgeland Common hill for working out.

We supported the referendum for a separate park district taxing body and were encouraged by the board's commitment to be better stewards of our parks, whose maintenance had been neglected for many years. But we weren't aware that the park board was considering changes on the scale that have been made at Field and Ridgeland Common, which have meant the destruction of so many mature trees, synthetic turf, and the demolition of the village's beloved sledding hill.

Kathryn Jonas

Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Michael Gibbs from River Forest  

Posted: July 16th, 2013 3:57 PM

I commend the OP PD in considering the turf. It allows for better use of the facilities with reduced maintenance. It also provides a softer more uniform surface for our children to play on. I encourage all the readers of this article to not confuse green space with athletic fields. This article is about playing fields not forest preserves.

OP Res  

Posted: July 1st, 2013 2:30 PM

Real Thinker, do you mean human existence as we know it will be gone as a result of the accumulation of unwise decisions. We do matter, our decisions and influences matter to the generations that follow. Let's start by doing right by children and all of the other life forms with whom we share this small place called Oak Park.

Real Thinker from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2013 7:50 AM

The reality of our village is that it's not practical to be as "green" as we want to think we are. We live in a land-locked rectangle surrounding by a metropolis of 8 million people. Sure, a grass field may be a little better environmentally than turf, but that's offset by the benefit of getting more kids playing for more days a year. It's not about soccer, it's about kids & adults health. Really, we do what we can but we aren't as important as we want to believe. In 100 years we're all dead.

Faux green OP  

Posted: June 30th, 2013 9:50 PM

Oak Park likes to think of itself as green--but it's not for real. We are getting fake grass and what's not fake gets blasted by gas leaf blowers and ginormous mowers and covered by poisonous herbicides/pesticides for no reason. So, we have a couple of LEED buildings and a few more trees planted, but that's about it--everything else we do counters those advances. You can't bike around here. The compost program is about one of the most real green things done.


Posted: June 30th, 2013 9:28 PM

Environmental impact is not overblown--soil and grass and the other plants in the fields are very important for ecosystems beyond our very narrow needs for soccer fields. Soil is a carbon sink--grass and soil are much more sustainable than tires and plastic "grass". Read about soil: http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/pdf/0510.pdf Syn turf needs to be watered down, disinfected (with what?)--and creates a heat island effect. Not very environmentally savvy. But soccer is more important.

Timothy Ryan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 26th, 2013 3:37 PM

A big error in this piece & by Done is in regard to "the referendum for a separate PD taxing body.." The PDOP has been a separate taxing body for 100 years (hence the just ended Centennial!!). The referendum allowed for a swap of facilities with VOP, & eliminated an annual VOP subsidy of $ 1.4M. (where did that money go?? ask the VOP). It's not been a "blank check", rather a slightly larger outlay to maintain & enhance facilities long term. All approved by a board after years of citizen input.

Nevermind the turf  

Posted: June 26th, 2013 2:59 PM

OPers will always complain about something. The real ? for the PD is whether we are keeping our rec facilities on par with the towns around the nation that can offer bike trails, golf courses, indoor pools, lakes for boating, running tracks, climbing walls, and whatever else. We have none of that, are landlocked, and need to maximize our recreation space for multiple uses/users. Our park district needs to improve. Even with turf, gymnastics center, Ridgeland Common, we're still lacking.

Hinkley Springs  

Posted: June 26th, 2013 2:38 PM

Great to see Oak Park experiment as the first town in the world to put an artificial turf field over the Village's reservoir. Let's hope the rubber crumbs don't affect the taste of the water.

Blah, blah blah  

Posted: June 26th, 2013 2:16 PM

Too bad you don't really get to vote. It's up to the Park board to decide what they feel is in the best interest of the majority. If you don't like it, run for office. The bigger chunk on your tax bill that you should be looking at is the schools and the large surplus in their coffers.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: June 26th, 2013 2:02 PM

And enjoy the increase in our tax burden that gave the park district becoming a separate taxing body. I urge everyone to get out their tax bills for the last five years and see how much the cost has increased. It's been a blank check for the park district to do whatever they like. How did everyone vote on the new Ridgeland Common redo?

Jaime from Oak park  

Posted: June 26th, 2013 1:57 PM

I agree with having more parks with real grass, but not because of environmental factors. One is just the feel and smell. I could go on about being surrounded in nature, energy etc but I'm not. Second is that once used for years it deteriorates. Have you played soccer at the high school track? Little black balls end up inside your shoes often. I prefer dirt and grass. It's not that expensive to upkeep.

Timothy Ryan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 26th, 2013 10:41 AM

With the addition of synthetic turf to Ridgeland, it may not be necessary to include it in the Stevenson project. As I recall, synthetic turf was included there as an option. The broader point of this letter is suspect. The issue of additional usable field space in a landlocked town is real. Environmental impact is way overblown, as is the "destruction" of trees. PDOP has planted hundreds more trees than will be removed. The hill was not "beloved". Please don't emote. Think.

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