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.