Don't turn Lindberg into Toyota Park

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Jean Guarino

I would like to add my voice against the lobbying efforts of two local soccer clubs to replace grass playing fields with artificial turf, adding lights and expanding Lindberg Park.

First, before my husband and I are characterized as curmudgeonly spoilsports opposed to youth sports, I'll add a caveat that we both enjoy watching our two granddaughters play soccer at Lindberg in the spring and fall, and during the summer we walk or bike over to the park to watch boy's baseball.

I read with interest Dan Jordan's viewpoint in last week's Wednesday Journal [Why soccer fields are important at Lindberg, Viewpoints Oct. 13].

I totally agree with his conclusion that organized youth sports "promote a lifetime interest in fitness, team work, commitment, responsibility, sportsmanship, competitiveness, social skills and self-confidence." But don't the current programs played on grass and without lights promote the same benefits? How will replacing grass with synthetic turf and installing lights enhance or improve a child's experience playing organized youth sports?

On the other hand, many neighbors living in blocks surrounding the park might not agree with the "benefits" of lights and artificial turf as defined by supporters who are enthusiastic about the prospect of a hugely expanded schedule.

One speaker at the first meeting envisioned continual games from morning to night and on both Saturday and Sunday. This increased schedule would result in a corresponding increase in the amount of car and bus traffic and congestion on surrounding blocks.

Another "benefit" is that kids would be able to play in a driving rain; no slipping and sliding on muddy fields when players can instead be covered with pellets from recycled car tires that are used as infill material and sustain abrasions and burns that are the result of friction between their skin and the synthetic turf.

The argument that Lindberg Park should have synthetic turf because Freedom Park in Berwyn has synthetic turf is deeply flawed. Just because "everyone else" is doing it doesn't necessarily mean it's the right thing to do. When my kids complained that "everyone else was doing" something they weren't allowed to do, it didn't mean I was wrong in not permitting them to do it.

In these tough economic times, we're all trying to live within our budget. And the park district's budget for this project is $450,000. Installing synthetic turf and lights would use most, if not that entire amount, leaving other needed improvements undone.

The proposal to add synthetic turf and lights would effectively transform Lindberg Park into the Toyota Park of the western suburbs. It's a plan that is ill-advised and should not be allowed to go forward.

Jean Guarino is an Oak Park naturalist and local historian.

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Reader Comments

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Sally Forth from Oak Park  

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 2:01 PM

Again, fellow villagers, what is going on here is a very good, very open PUBLIC PROCESS. Ideas come forth, and are debated, then a concept plan is made for more discussion. Go to the meeting 11/3 and share your thoughts. And Ms. Samuels, the 20 visitors' cars parked at Longfellow is a GOOD THING! They come, see the game, and spend some $$ in our town. What's wrong with that?? It's a PUBLIC PARK. I'm sure you've visited parks in other towns. They are for everyone!

Chicken Little  

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 10:08 AM

There is a study to support every possible position on this subject. real fact is that there is no evidence that the environment or a person has ever ACTUALLY been hurt outside of a scientist's lab.

A Non  

Posted: November 1st, 2010 10:44 PM

According to a study done by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in 2007, it was found that the rubber used for infill in artificial turf released a potentially dangerous amount of zinc that is released into the air and gets into the water runoff from the turf as well. The turf must be hosed down to clean it. So now we get 2 for 1: zinc in the air AND the water runoff. How's that for living Green??

Julie Samuels from Oak park  

Posted: November 1st, 2010 1:06 PM

Please check this link for the full story on Artifical Turf: - yes -from lead & other contaminants- Heat - averages 117 degrees, up to 157 degrees- Infections - 16 times higher on plastic grass- Injury rates - higher Then there were the 20 cars parked at a Longfellow Park soccer game Saturday where only had an Oak Park sticker- How about "Oak Park Parks for Oak Park Taxpayers"?

S. Plissken from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 6:17 PM

Dedicated artificial turf fields with commercial sponsors: is that a question? You claim that they are expensive, but if cost is underwritten by a commercial sponsor, doesn't that nullify your fear of cost? A field can be used by any filed sport, synthetic or natural turf or just playing tag...BTW tag, your it.

S. Plissken from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 6:11 PM

No soccer here, sorry. All good on field sports for my kids. like I said D.R., you are always right. Who is going to tell the good people who live near Male Park that they are not in a residential neighborhood? Here is the link to the maps of park in oak park: Which park are not in a residential area? I suppose that Ridgeland Baseball Diamonds and Stevenson Park could be considered as not too residential. And I'm the elitist?

David W Ristau from Lahaina  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 5:23 PM

Mr./Ms. Plissken:Thank you for your post confirming your lack of knowledge of the parks located in Oak Park. Dedicated artificial turf fields with commercial sponsors. Your definition of progress? So a select few can use the facilities for one sport? Progess? Elitism comes to mind, not progress. I suspect you are one of the soccer elitists looking to foist your sport on the rest of us. No thank you....

Christopher Goode from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 2:36 PM

Lighten up S. Just because not all responders share your opinion doesn't mean you have to jump down their throats. Oak Park is a closed system. They ain't making more land and the parks we have are probably the parks we will have in the future unless some additional land is purchased and buildings go down. We have to work with what we have, and we may all get some of what we want along with some of what we don't want. The park district is smart to listen to all the voices in the community.

S.Plissken from Oak Park  

Posted: October 29th, 2010 12:13 PM

David Ristau, you are right. Screw it, let's just leave everything the same. Progress is for other communities, not Oak Park. And aren't all parks in Oak Park is in a quiet residential neighborhoods? Save when kids are there having so called fun. I will tell my kids no fun at the parks and the playfields, they are for quiet reflection and old people. Hey everybody, please take note: if it is good enough for David Ristau it is good enough for you. You want better? Go find it someplace else!

David W. Ristau from visiting from Lahaina, Maui  

Posted: October 28th, 2010 2:16 PM

My 2 cents, from having lived in Oak Park for more years than I can remember, LIndberg Park isn't on a main street with normal business noise. It's in the middle of a quiet residential area.SO why does the residential area now have to even consider artifical turf and dedicated sports fields with accompanying noise and traffic?Share the ball fields next to Ridgeland Commons and use cones for the soccer games.Worked ok for my generation and my own kids.Cost a whole lot less too.....

Sally Forth from oak park  

Posted: October 28th, 2010 1:42 PM

Intersting discussion, and the Park District is doing a great job soliciting input from all corners of the community. Just because some groups want turf, doesn't mean it will be in the final plan. Kudos to the Park District for, again, listening to everyone. And, just so you know, Toyota Park is a NATURAL GRASS field...a more accurate comparison would be the Veterans Field in Forest Park, which has lights and artificial turf.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: October 28th, 2010 12:58 PM

I'm with Ms. Guarino. Call me old school, but to me a park is, first and foremost, a green space. Not a dedicated athletic facility. That means trees, shrubs, perennials and actual grass. Is it politically incorrect to say that having to practice T-ball in a corner of Maple Park doesn't sound like a hardship to me? Hey, these are kids playing games, not potential Olympians training for the world stage. Deserving urchins aside, geezers have rights, too!

Mike Vesely from OP  

Posted: October 28th, 2010 12:00 PM

Jean Guarino asks how installing lights and turf enhance the current programs. As a parent who coached soccer, baseball and softball in Oak Park I too enjoyed watching my kids play. I watched them play soccer in Elmwood Park and Chicago, because there are not enough fields in town. I held basesball practice in Columbus Park, because there is no room to practice once the season starts in Oak Park. We held T-ball practice in a corner of Maple Park, again due to lack of fields.

Jason Malley from Oak Park  

Posted: October 28th, 2010 11:25 AM

I agree don't turn it into Toyota park. But do turf the field and please put a full scale, IHSA approved, track and field facility in around the field while you're at it. Allow OPRF ,D97 middle schools and Fenwick to use it for track meets instead of renting the Concordia track. Put lights in. It will get dark at 6:10 tonight, it gets dark at 8:30 in the summer. The lights can't be that much of a bother, can they? or would you like to blot out the sun in the summer at 6:10 also?

Christopher Goode from Oak Park  

Posted: October 27th, 2010 4:00 PM

Jean Guarino speaks my mind. I too have had kids in soccer in Oak Park, but I don't think that we need either artificial turf or artificial light. I applaud the efforts of the Park District to hear all sides of the issues as they develop plans for the parks but we have to be careful to balance out the need for more playing fields for organized sports with the many other desirable features of the parks. The best solution will allow multiple uses for the fields and will blend in when not in use.

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