Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 24
 
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
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Recreation Board Answers Objections to Use of Synthetic Turf Play Fields

THOMAS ZUCOSKY
Chairman, Princeton Joint Recreation Board
MIKE FINKELSTEIN
Management Committee, Princeton Joint Recreation Board
RICHARD NOSKER
Management Committee, Princeton Joint Recreation Board

Police and Public Works Responders Thanked for Prompt, Courteous Action

KARL F. MORRISON
Linwood Circle

Block Party Organized by Councilman Benefited Paul Robeson House Project

SHIRLEY SATTERFIELD
Paul Robeson House Committee
Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church

Offices of State Legislature Members Taking Furlough Days During Crunch

REED GUSCIORA
Assemblyman
BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN
Assemblywoman

Winning Nominee for Borough Council Thanks Primary Voters and Colleagues

JENNY CRUMILLER
Library Place


Recreation Board Answers Objections to Use of Synthetic Turf Play Fields

To the Editor:

Letters opposing the installation of a Synthetic Turf field on public land in Princeton were published in the June 3 and June 10 issues of Town Topics. The Princeton Recreation Board (PRB) is compelled to address certain of the objections raised.

Because of the dearth of usable athletic field space available in our community, Princeton Recreation was given a grant by Mercer County (“Mercer at Play”) for the installation of a Synthetic Turf field. The installation of this field will not require any new funding from either the Township or Borough.

The Recreation Board is in the process of analyzing the possibility of installing a single full-sized multi-use Turf field replacing an existing athletic field at one of the parks in Princeton with the possibility of installing a smaller one in another park, using this grant. No final determination has been made.

Studies have shown that Synthetic Turf fields do not emit toxic fumes any more than items such as common plastics, carpeting, or mattresses do. The Recreation Department has surveyed many local and regional owners of synthetic turf fields (there are seven in Princeton alone). The Department could not find one owner who reported any instances of “Heat Island Effect,” toxic fumes, contaminated water, MRSA, or any other environmental detriment or contagion. Instead, owners reported that their field(s) have been a great asset for their programs and for their ability to offer quality recreation facilities where use can be maximized. In retrospect, they wish they had built more and built them sooner. National studies have reached the same conclusion.

The bulk of the data collected by the PRB staff was not conducted by Synthetic Turf manufacturers. In fact, much of the “concern” over Synthetic Turf fields has been generated by natural turf growers’ groups.

Crumb rubber, consisting of small pieces of ground-up, used tires, constitute a “fill” material in Synthetic Turf, but this material is not a “hazardous waste.” In fact, tires themselves are not a hazardous waste. Tires are a nuisance because of the disposal issue. Tires are composed of 75 percent void space, so valuable space is quickly consumed in landfills. The hollow nature of a tire allows rainwater to collect and creates an ideal habitat for rodents and mosquitoes. Tires in stockpiles also can ignite, creating tire fires that are difficult to extinguish and generating unhealthy smoke and toxic oils because too little oxygen is available in such fires. It is for these reasons that most states have passed scrap tire regulations requiring proper management, not because the tires themselves are a hazardous waste. In fact, the U.S. EPA recommends using recycled tires for erosion control, rainwater runoff barriers, wetlands/marsh establishment, creating artificial reefs, and as surfacing material for playgrounds.

The fact that 7 percent of Princeton residents indicated in a general survey that they would like to have Synthetic Turf fields in town actually means that there is a notable level of interest in Turf fields. The positive responses come primarily from those who have an immediate need, mainly families who have been suffering from a lack of field space for their children. Additionally, the community survey does not take into account the 37 advocacy groups that were interviewed during the Recreation Department Master Plan process. The ever-recurring theme from many of those groups was their frustration at not being able to meet the demand of their program numbers because of facility and field shortages in Princeton.

It is true that, as an overall average, a Synthetic Turf field provides 50 percent greater usage than a grass field. While that may not seem to be a significant enough increase, at times of greatest stress, after many days of rain for example, when many teams have games to make up, the Synthetic Turf field can be used immediately and continuously until normal conditions are reestablished. In such cases, the comparative benefit is huge.

We do not believe that a Synthetic Turf field would need to be replaced after eight to ten years. Currently, the company warranties given on most Synthetic Turf fields are eight years; however we believe it is more likely that the field would need to be replaced after ten to fifteen years. At that time only the surface is replaced, not the substructure. This is substantially cheaper than the original installation costs.

The Princeton Environmental Commission’s positive vote for a Synthetic Turf field was about safety, health, and environment, and was based on a multitude of studies and information. It was not about the actual location of the field.

We are all fortunate to live in a community of passionate citizens. We can have honest debates about aesthetic preferences, policies, and decisions; however, we must separate fact from emotional perspective.

The Princeton Recreation Board has long been a leader in planning and providing a good marriage between active and passive recreation. As stewards of an important aspect of our community, we study and vet the pros and cons of all proposals. In the case of the potential use of Synthetic Turf, much empirical information was compiled to study the impact on health, regulatory adherence, functionality, return on investment and, yes, sustainability (this information is available to the public). It is only in the context of severe field shortages that Synthetic Turf fields have become essential. There is little or no more land available for athletic fields in Princeton and no one is interested in cutting down tracts of trees to make more. But to be perfectly clear, the Recreation Board would never, under any circumstances, compromise the health and welfare of children or adults by installing a field system that was not accepted as a “best practice” for our community. The fields we are considering meet this standard.

The public is always invited to visit the Recreation Department and to come to our monthly board meetings to observe and participate in our ongoing decision-making.

THOMAS ZUCOSKY
Chairman, Princeton Joint Recreation Board
MIKE FINKELSTEIN
Management Committee, Princeton Joint Recreation Board
RICHARD NOSKER
Management Committee, Princeton Joint Recreation Board

Police and Public Works Responders Thanked for Prompt, Courteous Action

To the Editor:

Last Tuesday morning, at about 7:45 a.m., lightning struck a large tree in our front yard. The tree exploded, scattering fragments 40 feet up and down the street. The street looked like a combat zone. Our block changed in a split second, and in the middle of torrential rain. Luckily there were no injuries, although one 15-foot spear of wood impaled itself in a neighbor’s stone wall. There was a havoc of branches all around the monumental jagged stump of the tree.

I write to thank the Township for setting things right in a most professional and neighborly way. Almost before I had finished calling the Township Police, Patrolman James Strong was at our front door, in the middle of the deluge, taking information and reassuring two very jangled Princetonians. About as soon, Greg O’Neill, arborist in the Public Works Department, was here, followed in force by his team. The team cut down the stripped, broken, and massive skeleton of the tree, cleared the road, raked up small debris, and pulled away by 10 a.m. Two hours from ruin to restoration.

My wife and I are deeply grateful for the courtesy, good humor, and know-how of all concerned, and proud of our community.

KARL F. MORRISON
Linwood Circle

Block Party Organized by Councilman Benefited Paul Robeson House Project

To the Editor:

On Saturday, May 23 a block party fundraiser was held on Maclean Street sponsored by “Wilkes for Council.” It was a time for fun, food, music, games for children, and great conversation with families of the Witherspoon Jackson community, both mayors of Princeton, members of Borough Council, the Assemblyman for District 15, members of the board of the Historical Society of Princeton, and other Princeton residents in attendance. The block party was also a benefit for the Paul Robeson House Project. The Paul Robeson house is located on the corner of Witherspoon and Green Streets and will be a cultural center for the Princeton community.

We sincerely thank Kevin Wilkes for organizing this fundraiser and to all persons who gave generously toward the Paul Robeson House Project. We are encouraged by their donations and support.

SHIRLEY SATTERFIELD
Paul Robeson House Committee
Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church

Offices of State Legislature Members Taking Furlough Days During Crunch

To The Editor:

In this difficult economic climate, we are keenly aware of the difficult sacrifices public employees are being called upon to make to ensure New Jersey’s budget remains in its constitutional balance. Mandated furloughs can create a hardship for many families, but they are still far better than the loss of a job when no other opportunities exist.

We are not exempting our own staff from the need to share in that sacrifice. On Friday, May 22, our entire legislative office, including ourselves, took a voluntary unpaid furlough day. We will do it again on Friday, June 19.

Constituents seeking assistance should be aware that although the legislative office will be closed, we will make every attempt to avoid a disruption in service. Residents accustomed to getting their answers fast should be patient as it may take our office longer than usual to get back to them as we work through the backlog of phone messages and e-mails. But every problem and concern will receive our full attention.

Certainly we wish the economic crisis that is gripping the state did not warrant such a response. But it would have been hypocritical of us to ask public employees to make this sacrifice without asking our own staff to do the same.

REED GUSCIORA
Assemblyman
BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN
Assemblywoman

Winning Nominee for Borough Council Thanks Primary Voters and Colleagues

To the Editor:

I would like to thank the voters of Princeton Borough for their support in Tuesday’s election for the Democratic nomination to Borough Council. I also thank my fellow nominee Kevin Wilkes for a positive and public-spirited campaign.

I also want to recognize and thank the student candidate Mendy Fisch. His tremendous talent is evident in the results that brought out not only an unprecedented number of students but a significant number of votes from townspeople. We’re lucky to have him in the Democratic Party and I look forward to working with him on student issues.

Last, I thank the many friends and supporters who were crucial to a successful campaign, especially my campaign manager, Jo Butler. Her wise counsel, professionalism, and ability to bring together so many people built an effective and powerful campaign team.

As we move toward the November general election, I look forward to campaigning for the Democratic ticket, and again, I thank voters for their support.

JENNY CRUMILLER
Library Place

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