I was surprised when reading The Breeze to learn that while North Providence voters approved a bond issue for new schools, the mayor plans to use funds for artificial turf. To allow any building funds to be used for artificial turf is wrong, without voter approval. Before the vote on the school bond issue, there was never any mention of using those funds for artificial turf installation. When voters approved the school bond issue it was unbeknownst to the voters that any funds, never mind $3.2 million, might be allocated for artificial turf, stands, and a new scoreboard at North Providence High School.
Personally, I would never have voted for the bond issue if it had included artificial turf. Many people of North Providence signed a petition against artificial turf several years ago. The petition was presented to the mayor, School Committee and Town Council. The petitioners asked that real grass be installed at the high school. The harms of artificial turf are well documented. For example, doctors have advised that children not be exposed to artificial turf because of potential damage to their health. Artificial turf may include carcinogens, lead, and other hazardous chemicals.
The harm to North Providence residents and neighborhoods from the extreme heat, poor air quality, and pollution that an artificial turf field generates are concerns and reasons not to install an artificial turf field as described. The costs of artificial turf are much more than real grass, according to my research provided to North Providence about three years ago. As of then, installing an artificial turf field was about $1,000,000 to $1,500,000, whereas the cost to install a real grass field with irrigation and drainage was about $150,000. Maintenance costs for both were about the same. Costs for artificial turf fields include sanitation and refilling crumb rubber. An artificial turf surface generally lasts about eight to 10 years and then requires disposal at a cost of about $300,000 and replacement at additional cost. A real grass field generally lasts 50 years. The NPH football field is about 50 years old and the baseball field is much older. I request the following from North Providence town officials:
• That the mayor, Town Council, and School Committee research installing real grass, and seek input and approval from voters about field surface type and funding of field improvements;
• That the mayor rescind his decision to spend school bond issue money for artificial turf;
• That the Town Council exercise their power of the purse and oversight to deny the expenditure of any money for artificial turf;
• And that the School Committee prohibit the installation of artificial turf on school grounds.
To all residents, please make your concerns known to the mayor, Town Council, and School Committee. We can be heard. Let’s use our voices to make North Providence an even better place to live, one that reflects the will of the people and is healthy and a place we and our families will want to live in for years to come.