April 21, 2021

Artificial Rubber Crumb Ground Cover Should Be Removed from Guyot Walk

To the Editor:

The toddler playground on the Guyot Walk is extremely popular. It’s used daily, year-round. Although on school property, with donated plastic play equipment, no one claims responsibility for its upkeep. Local residents periodically prune bushes and remove dead branches from the Walk, but improving the play area is a different task.

Although a Princeton Future poll has confirmed it as a favorite refuge for all residents, no part of the Guyot Walk is on the list of Town Parks (princetonnj.gov/Facilities). Nor does it belong to FOPOS, which protects only “non-active” spaces: not kids biking to schools, seniors walking dogs, alone or with each other; or parents guiding strollers.

What used to be called the Parks and Recreation Department is now just the Recreation Department, focused on competitive sports. Princeton has no parks commissioner. The current move seems to be toward a commissioner of open space, but what about mere parks?

The Walk provides all that a park provides and more. It’s always peacefully quiet, with organized sports separate but close by. While Mary Moss and Barbara Sigmund Parks are proudly claimed by the town, the Guyot Walk and playground are not.

Neighbors periodically remove fallen branches, the town installed trash cans a year or so ago and, if called, will repair a broken fence or pull trash from the brook. Otherwise, this tiny area, unique in Princeton, is officially ignored.

Now that artificial turf may be banned from our parks (thanks to neighbors of Smoyer, Johnson, and Hilltop Parks), we should also get rid of the rubber crumb surfacing in this little gem of a park. The crumbs, known to contain noxious chemicals, not only threaten our toddlers but spill across the walk into the stream, which apparently flows into the aquifer and thus into the town’s drinking water.

Thanks to long tradition, we have great parks for residents of all ages. But there’s no place like the Guyot Walk. That it provides a haven for so many, from all over town, should spur us all to take care of it. Let’s begin by removing the worst part: the aging, unsightly and probably increasingly unhealthy rubber crumb ground cover.

Mary Clurman
Harris Road