By Tim Eaton - Westfield
From what I understand, the votes on the Edison field plan will take place soon. If voted yes, tower lights and artificial turf will be installed on 250,000 square feet behind Edison Intermediate School. What a travesty this would be. The Edison plan needs to be voted down.
To burden this location with significant increased activity, especially at night with team practices and games, will cause traffic, congestion, parking and safety concerns. Even today with Kehler field across the street and current activity on the field behind Edison school, there are concerns over the aforementioned issues. Tower lights and artificial turf will just make things worse.
The tower lights and increase in noise pollution will ruin the quality of life of nearby neighborhoods. Life will never be the same. Some homes have backyards adjacent to the Edison field, only separated by a brook or bushes.
Neighborhoods need a break at night from the noise and activity during daylight hours. Neighborhoods surrounding the Edison field will become parking lots for the overload of vehicles caused by insufficient parking at the school. There are zoning laws protecting homes from light glare, excessive noise and loss of value caused by exterior alterations, as in the Edison plan with its artificial turf and tower lights. These zoning laws need to be enforced. The Edison plan needs to be voted down.
Current and future parents of children at Edison school need to be aware of the safety and health issues associated with artificial turf. Chemicals such as PFAS and lead are part of the turf and infill, and are known to cause cancer, lung ailments, endocrine disorders and other health problems. With 250,000 square feet of artificial turf, children could potentially spend recess and gym class on this chemical-ridden surface. The experts who have spoken or whom we have identified as having researched this issue and warned us of these health concerns have no agenda other than the safety and health of the children and other users of the field. We need to listen to them.
Artificial turf emits toxic gases, sheds particles onto the field and into the atmosphere, which can be inhaled. The creek next to the field will become polluted from the artificial turf, contaminating the neighborhoods and sending contaminated water downstream to other neighborhoods. The soil under the turf will become contaminated.
Artificial turf can become too hot and too hard. Scrapes, burns and abrasions are common. Non-contact injuries will increase. Of significance, the NFL Players Association has petitioned against artificial turf for this reason.
Artificial turf is not recyclable and will ruin the environment. It has to be replaced every 8 to 10 years. Is this what we want at Edison field? I do not think so.
A much better alternative to the Edison plan, with its tower lights and artificial turf, is natural organic grass fields at multiple locations (existing and new) throughout Westfield, with a professional field manager. This would include Edison, Roosevelt, Tamaques, Elm, Memorial, Sycamore, Westfield High School and other locations. This is the best solution to increasing field capacity and is the most equitable. A professional field manager will provide the needed administration of these fields with proper irrigation, aeration, overseeding fertilizing and drainage. Downtime will be reduced, the fields will be more durable and provide the extra field capacity required. All locations will share in the increased capacity needed without jeopardizing the safety and health of the field users and nearby neighborhoods. Home values and quality of life will be preserved. This is a win-win for all parties and consistent with the green goals for Westfield.
As a final point, it is important to mention the process most of us go through when buying a home. One significant factor is the surrounding neighborhood. When we decided to live on Knollwood Terrace, we knew Edison school and field were close by, so it was taken into account during the buying process. The Edison field plan, with its artificial turf and tower lights would now change the field into a quasi outdoor stadium, 35 years after the purchase of our home. This was obviously never factored into the buying process. This would apply to anyone in surrounding neighborhoods who bought their home up until the date this project was proposed. Zoning laws should protect us from alterations this significant being made, adversely impacting quality of life and home values. Please keep this in mind, along with the safety, health and location concerns already mentioned. Please vote no on the Edison field plan. There are better choices.