March 17, 2021

Reviewing Reasons Why  Synthetic Turf is a Bad Idea for Hilltop Park

To the Editor:

Many of us who live in the Northeast part of Princeton Township support our neighbors in the Hilltop Park area who are seeking to overturn the recent and surprising decision by our town Council to replace the natural turf field with synthetic turf.

First, let’s review why synthetic turf is a bad idea.

Bad for kids – Increased frequency and severity of sports injuries like concussions and falls including turf “burn” and provoking allergic reactions from inhaling fumes.

Bad for the environment – It’s impermeable, amplifying storm water run-off and flooding, and polluting our water with toxins and heavy metals from the breakdown of rubber “crumbs” derived from old tires that make up the “turf.”

Bad for the town budget – It’s expensive to install ($1 million); requires ongoing maintenance ($50,000/year — half the total Rec Department budget) with special “cleaning” machines for the inevitable blood, sweat, and tears that adhere to it; and it must be replaced every 10 years ($1/2 million) with old artificial turf dumped somewhere.

Too hot – In summer the surface of the synthetic turf is much hotter than grass, which limits its use, while the heat also accelerates the breakdown of the “crumbs” and release of toxin.

The big question is why does this bad idea keep coming back even after being shot down at Farmview Park, Barbara Smoyer Park, and the Princeton Academy? It’s time to step back as a community and decide together how synthetic turf on our playing fields can possibly fit with Princeton’s path to sustainability. And let’s remember that our sports fields in our parks are also used by many other members of the community who picnic, fly kites, or just lie down on the grass to look at the sky.

It is pretty clear that the money-making Princeton Soccer Academy (based in Randolph, N.J., not Princeton) wants synthetic turf fields in our town for their purposes, but we the taxpayers don’t.

At the Zoom hearing on March 25 at 7 p.m. let’s just say to PSA and their Township supporters, three strikes and now you’re out!

Lindy Eiref
Dodds Lane