Mayor Drew has called a Special Session of the Common Council for THIS WEDNESDAY, Sept 2 at 6pm to vote on changes to the proposed “parks bond” wording. The proposal is to add 6 additional grass fields to the bond language in order meet capacity needs that the artificial turf would have provided. (The language allowing synthetic turf to be installed was removed from the bond wording at the meeting on Aug. 24.) Removing synthetic turf and adding additional natural grass fields will allow for the funding authorization to be reduced by approximately $3.5 million, which is also part of the Mayor’s proposal.
If this meeting were guaranteed to bring a straight up or down vote on the Mayor’s proposal, without amendments, we would be all in favor of it. An article in the Hartford Courant on Tuesday, Sept. 1, however, states the Majority Leader Tom Serra intends to oppose the Mayor’s proposal and, instead, “to rescind the vote adding a referendum question to the ballot.” Later in the same article, this statement is interpreted to mean postponing any referendum on parks improvements until next year.
It is also possible that the Common Council will take this opportunity to reopen the synthetic turf debate and try to reinstate the synthetic turf option. A news article this week suggested that some council members interpreted the public comments at the last meeting — in opposition to artificial turf — to mean that only “crumb rubber” turf ( using “infill” made from granulated automobile tires) was objectionable. The natural grass field proponents, in fact, are against any artificial turf, since even the plastic grass is unacceptable as a health and environmental hazard. Any infill material used, even infill made of plant material, is problematic because it needs applications of herbicides and disinfectants. Also, the experience of playing on artificial turf is so different from the experience of natural grass, due to the sponginess of the surface, the smell of the plastic, the heat, and the general “not living” characteristic of the installation. Natural grass — in other words, real living grass — maintained by organic methods, is the best option from every standpoint.
Please try to attend this Wednesday Special Session at 6 p.m. to show your support and/or voice your concern and speak out against any change that would reintroduce artificial turf as an option. Check back on this post for updates on the Council meeting and any possible change of plans.