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.