Monday, November 15, 2010

Parks Dept. Removes City's First Artificial Turf Field - Denies Health Risk

The City is finally getting around to removing Chelsea Park Ballfields - two years after they found elevated levels of lead. Tests show that one of five dust samples from the park exceeded federal safety standards for lead. The city closed the artificial turf field - the first synthetic field installed by the Parks Department - on Monday September 20 after more than twelve years of use. The carpet style turf is being replaced by an infill type which will use "virgin rubber." The switch to the more costly virgin rubber comes after the city was finally forced to stop using infill made from recycled tires after public outcry over health and safety concerns. The tires contain a host of chemicals including some that are known to be carcinogenic. The city allowed the installation of more than 100 million pounds of recycled tires throughout our parks and playgrounds without conducting a single test before phasing out its use. The Parks Department is insisting the fields in Chelsea Park are not being removed due to health related issues.

Construction was ready to begin this Spring but the city waited until the Summer season was over in order to accommodate the increased seasonal use. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on Image to enlarge.


The Bloomberg administration is spending $2.2 million to replace a Chelsea athletic field -- 12 years after the site spurred a safety debate by sporting the city park system's first artificial-turf playing surface, according to the New York Post.

The Astroturf-style carpet at Chelsea Park, on West 27th Street and 10th Avenue, will be replaced with a state-of-the-art, 50,000-square-foot field made from synthetic rubber.

Health inspectors testing for lead found the field worn out from years of heavy use. The new field is expected to be completed by spring.

Records show that one of five dust samples from the park exceeded federal safety standards for lead. But Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh says the levels are so low as to pose no harm to regular users. The turf, he insists, is being replaced solely because it has surpassed its 10-year expected life span.

This is one of the heaviest-used fields in the city – there’s few like it on the West Side [of Manhattan]," he said.

But Geoffrey Croft of the watchdog group New York City Park Advocates ripped the city for "re-carpeting" the field. He estimated the city is paying twice as much by not using grass and is leaving the public open to potential "health and environmental issues" associated with synthetic turf.

Since Chelsea Park added artificial turf in 1998, the city has quickly grown into the largest municipal buyer of turf in America – adding more than 140 synthetic fields throughout its park system, according to the Independent Budget Office.

In the process, these artificial fields have become battlegrounds.

Read More:

New York Post - By Rich Calder - November 15, 2010

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