Members of the North End/Waterfront Residents Association (NEWRA) expressed concerns about the planned use of artificial turf for Puopolo Park at the August NEWRA meeting.
In May, the Boston Parks & Recreation Department presented their two design plans for the parks, which both include synthetic turf over grass on the multi-use field. At that community meeting, a debate broke out about the use of turf and many residents continue to express concerns.
According to NEWRA members, an artificial turf would be unwelcome in the North End community for a number of reasons, including that it would remove the largest real grass space in the North End. Also, synthetic turf generates more heat than grass. According to a study, fake grass is 39 degrees hotter than real grass. This would make it unpleasant for families to enjoy the field in the summer.
Another downside is that artificial turf poses a lot of health risks and can cause injuries to athletes.
President Mary McGee said the plan did not make sense for the area. “We don’t have green space to spare,” she said.
The Association voted in favor of sending the Boston Parks & Recreation Department a letter voicing their dissent.
“We need to tell Chris Cook [Commissioner of the Parks Department] to put the brakes on this,” said McGee.
Some NEWRA members worried it was too late and that the Parks Department had already finalized the plan for synthetic turf. Representative Aaron Michlewitz said that wasn’t necessarily the case. He said that while they prefer to have artificial turf, the plan “isn’t written in stone.”
“It’s not a done deal yet,” he said. “They want to start construction in the spring of next year.”
The Boston Parks & Recreation Department has said in past meetings that they prefer artificial turf because it is more durable and lasts longer. It is more expensive to put in than a real grass field.
The Parks Department was invited to attend the NEWRA meeting but declined the offer, saying they will visit when they have more concrete plans to present.