Despite some opposition, artificial turf will be used at the Puopolo Fields on Commercial Street with natural grass remaining at Langone Park’s little league field, according to a community letter issued by Boston Parks Commissioner, Chris Cook. A stretch of natural grass will also be added along the Harborwalk for passive activities. The change will come as part of a $4.5 million renovation project that will begin in 2019 to rebuild the fields, playground, bocce courts, Harborwalk and seawall along the stretch of public park space.

Support for the synthetic turf came from the North End Athletic Association and Eliot K-8 School, among others, because of its durability and weather resistance. The natural grass fields have tended to flood causing multi-day baseball game cancellations. Artificial turf is more flexible and can also be used for soccer play, according to officials, as well as other recreational activities that would harm natural grass.

The use of artificial turf came under criticism by some parents and community members, including the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA). Environmental concerns include removing the largest natural grass open space in the neighborhood, excessive heat and potential health concerns of using synthetic materials. Noting that modern synthetic turf is more expensive than the natural alternative, Cook responded to those criticisms by saying:

“We are investigating ways to cool the field including alternative infills, misting systems and other innovations as our budget allows. In researching the materials we use, our Design & Construction staff has found no studies or reports linking illnesses to the use of artificial turf.”

The full letter is shown below:

Reconstruction of Puopolo and Langone Parks is scheduled to begin in the Spring 2019. See the plans here.

8 COMMENTS

  1. From a 1/18/2018 Boston Globe Metrowest opinion column on installing grass or artificial turf at Cypress Field in Brookline:
    Please note the prior position of the person saying no to artificial:

    Brian Hochleutner

    Brookline Precinct 6 Town Meeting member; former capital projects chief of staff for New York City’s parks department

    Brian Hochleutner

    Brookline residents are lucky: We’ve inherited a great public park system. But with that inheritance comes a duty: to maintain and protect it. Cypress Field, near Brookline High School, needs such protection. Purchased in 1871 as one of America’s first municipal parks, it has been heavily used by nearby residents and others for nearly 150 years. Today, Cypress is the largest Brookline park in its dense urban neighborhood, but with grass worn from heavy use over many years, it needs renovation.

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    Pointing to current conditions, some claim that a grass field at Cypress is unsustainable, and that it should be replaced with plastic turf. I understand the thinking to a point: I have two kids who play soccer, and artificial turf fields can withstand heavy use over long hours. But keeping grass at Cypress Field is the right choice for many reasons.

    Green plastic is not real green space, which Brookline needs more of, not less. Many residents, with little or no private outdoor space, rely heavily on Brookline’s parks. Losing 3.5 acres of green space at Cypress would be devastating.

    Plastic turf would make Cypress less inviting and usable to many people (particularly seniors and kids) who don’t play active team sports and instead use the park for various other purposes — to relax, play, eat lunch or dinner, walk a dog, sunbathe, or just listen to the crickets. Plastic turf gets very hot and contributes to global warming and urban heat island effects; grass cools and has other environmental benefits, soaking up storm water and as a habitat for birds, bees, insects and wildlife.

    Installing plastic at Cypress Field would be four times more expensive than refurbishing the grass ($2 million vs. $500,000). The $1.5 million saved by maintaining the grass could instead go toward acquiring badly needed land for more playing fields.

    Saying we must either install plastic turf or accept currently existing worn-out field conditions is a false choice. Cypress Field is long overdue for reconstruction. Refurbished grass, including better soil mix, grading, and drainage, would be a huge improvement, allowing the field to withstand heavier use and continue serving the diverse mix of residents it has served for so long.

    (This is an informal poll, not a scientific survey. Please vote only once.)

    As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler He can be reached at laidler@globe.com.

  2. https://www.google.com/amp/thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/energy-environment/338830-the-science-is-in-epa-end-the-debate-on-turf-safety%3famp

    The hysteria around artificial turf is out of control. There is no hard scientific studies that PROVE that turf causes cancer in children.

    Yes I understand that if you google turf/cancer a bunch of scary articles come up. But none of the hypothesis are proven. You get the same results when you google cancer and cell phones.

    • Most, if not all, the sports complexes that jumped on the artificial turf band wagon during its hey day have now removed it. Sports injuries are the primary reason. I don’t know of any that removed it because it was carcinogenic. Sports Injuries will be the determanent of whether it stays.

      The thought that it needs little maintenance is a fallacy. It bakes in the sun all day. Shrinks and contracts, freezes under ice snd snow all winter and eventually looses all its elasticity. Budget issues will assure that this becomes dilapidated over time. Frequent injuries will make it necessary to make a decision to replace or just not get used.

      Evenually it can be used for tennis courts

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