The Amity AstroTurf Referendum is today, and I've set up a simple, unscientific exit poll using Google Docs. If you live in Bethany, Woodbridge, or Orange, please consider filling out this poll
If I get enough responses, I'll post about the results here or in a later blog post.
Update: One person asked about the anonymity of this poll. It was set up using Google Docs. You do not have to be logged into Google Docs to fill out the poll. It does track the time you filled it out, and your answer to the questions, but it does not track any other information besides the questions you answer.
We've already had answers from all three towns.
On Tuesday, voters from Bethany, Woodbridge, and Orange will go to the polls to vote on a referendum about installing astroturf at Amity Regional High School. There has been a bit if discussion about the issue on various social media sites, but no good comprehensive examination of the subject that I've been able to find.
So, I've been gathering information from various sources which I will try to present here.
Two links have been posted on the Conserve Woodbridge Facebook page:
The first article appears to be a fairly balanced view of the topic. It lists advantages as lower, maintenance costs, pesticide free, increased playability, fewer injuries and saves water. For the cons, it talks about a heat hazard, lead, zinc and other harmful chemicals, increased MRSA risk, bacterial breeding ground, adverse affect on asthmatics and once artificial, always artificial.
Unfortunately, the article doesn't provide links to support its claims, and there is plenty of material to contradict various claims. For example, the New York State Department of Health has a Fact Sheet: Crumb-Rubber Infilled Synthetic Turf Athletic Fields
While injury studies have not consistently identified differences in abrasion and laceration risks between natural and infilled synthetic turf, some types of synthetic turf may result in more skin abrasions. Although very few tests have been performed, the available data do not suggest the widespread presence of infectious agents, such as MRSA, on synthetic turf fields. Also, the available information indicates that outdoor or indoor synthetic turf surfaces are no more likely to harbor infectious agents than other surfaces in those same environments. Disease outbreak investigations conducted in response to illnesses caused by a variety of germs (e.g., MRSA, Campylobacter, meningococcus, echovirus, herpes simplex virus, hepatitis virus, coxsackie virus) have not identified playing fields, either natural or synthetic, as likely to increase the risk of transmitting infections.
Another valuable resource is the The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Risk Assessment of Artificial Turf Fields.
The second article is written by a turfgrass producer and is far from unbiased. Yet even this article contradicts the first article:
Teams that once had artificial grass, like the Reds, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals and Mariners, have chosen natural grass when updating their fields.
Over on the Woodbridge - Bethany Residents Forum there has been a lengthy discussion. I highlighted a few different articles, such as NH Register 5/19/2013: Amity considers artificial turf for field and Orange Live 8/24/2012 - A Letter From The Amity Turf Committee. Allison Rossi also shared a link to Group seeks $700,000 for turf football field at Amity High School, and to Bethwood Patch 1/10/2012: Turf Wars Avoided at Amity and Ed Walsh shared, NH Register 1/13/2012: Amity dads hope to raise $1M for artificial turf field
There are a few key things that come out of this. There had been an effort to raise private funds which appears not to have been successful, and the price has fluctuated between $700,000 and $1 million.
There has also been considerable discussion at various town meetings. Summaries of these discussions can be found in minutes of various board meetings.
Fundraising for a turf field has been done by a committee of dedicated volunteers and so far $2,000 has been raised. Another route to getting the turf field could be to bond it. We could present the idea to the people of the three communities and see if they would support spending $900,000 for this. With a brand new turf field, you can deduct approximately $20,000 per year for field maintenance. If a situation arose where it snowed, the field could be plowed.
It starts off with
Mr. Mengold recapped the history of discussion around an artificial turf field, beginning in 2004 with a proposal to the Board. He reviewed debunked reports on harmful effects of such fields (carcinogenic materials, increased injuries, etc.) and how the state Attorney General’s moratorium on installing artificial turf was later lifted. He went over the wet conditions of the current grass field, how heavy use by both Amity and community youth football games damaged the field and led to more athletic injuries.
Most other sports teams play on synthetic turf fields at other schools; in Amity’s DRG only one other school does not have a synthetic turf field.
The public hearing was followed by a special meeting, Amity Regional School District No. 5 Special Meeting Board of Education May 21, 2013 where the board approved
APPROPRIATION OF $945,000 AND AUTHORIZATION OF BONDS AND TEMPORARY NOTES IN THE SAME AMOUNT FOR REPLACEMENT OF THE CURRENT NATURAL GRASS FIELD AT THE AMITY REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC STADIUM WITH AN ARTIFICIAL TURF FIELD
The board then approved a referendum on the bonds:
SHALL REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT NUMBER 5 APPROPRIATE $945,000 AND AUTHORIZE BONDS AND TEMPORARY NOTES IN THE SAME AMOUNT FOR REPLACEMENT OF THE CURRENT NATURAL GRASS FIELD AT THE AMITY REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC STADIUM WITH AN ARTIFICIAL TURF FIELD?
I've also spoken with elected officials of neighboring towns, who have spoken positively of their experiences installing astroturf at their high schools.
Based on all of this, it seems to me that there is not compelling evidence of significant negative environmental or health risks to moving astroturf. In terms of the most basic cost benefit analysis, it appears as if the fields would cost $20,000 a year less to maintain, but that would take close to fifty years to cover the cost of the installation.
There have been discussions about special shoes necessary for playing on astroturf, but it is not such that the fields couldn't be used for other sports and given that our teams play away games at schools with astroturf, I suspect the shoes necessary for playing on astroturf are already available.
So, is the cost of installing astroturf worth it in terms of additional field use, or other benefits? I haven't seen a strong argument for that either.
In terms of private funding, I would love to see people from the community step up to help cover some of the cost, but I worry about this leading towards a slippery slope. What school activities should be publicly funded? Which ones should be privately funded? Should we look for private funding to make upgrades to science laboratories?
While I have yet to find compelling reasons for, or against the astroturf, I hope this will help others be better informed about the issue, make their own decisions, and show up at the voting booth on Tuesday.
Yesterday was Stand Down in Connecticut. In a positive light, it is a yearly event to provide services to needy veterans in our state. Community, Health Center, Inc., where I work, is a regular participant at Stand Down, providing medical screenings and dental cleanings to our veterans. CTNewsJunkie has a great article about Stand Down being A Bittersweet Stand Down for Outgoing State Veterans Affairs Commissioner.
Schwartz, who for a decade has been commissioner of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, accepted a nomination last month from President Obama to serve as an assistant secretary within the federal VA.
CHC acknowledged Commissioner Schwartz' great work and I was honored to hear some of her story about making Stand Down the success it is.
Yet there is a different way to look at Stand Down, not quite as rosy, and much more challenging. Stand Down is the yearly reminder that every day, we do not do enough for our veterans, or for that matter, for the men and women currently serving in our Armed Services.
This morning, I found a blog post, My Name Is Jason, I’m A 35-Yr-Old White Male Combat Veteran…And I’m On Food Stamps.
I do apologize for burdening you on the checkout line with real-life images of American-style poverty. I know you probably believe the only true starving people in the world have flies buzzing around their eyes while they wallow away, near-lifeless in gutters….
I’ve known people recently - soldiers in the Army ... They were off fighting in Afghanistan while their wives were at home, buying food at the on-post commissary with food stamps.
And nobody bats an eye there, because it’s not uncommon in the military.
So if you run into a congressman or a political commentator who is calling for reducing food stamps, as them why they are cutting funding to veterans and servicemen.
If they give you some story about how people are using food stamps to support their addictions, whether it be tobacco, alcohol, or some other type of drug, ask they why they aren't addressing the underlying problem of addictions?
Jason has his take on what's going on. It isn't about stopping fraud. It is about being a bully.
I didn’t risk my life in Afghanistan so I could come back and watch people go hungry in America. I certainly didn’t risk it so *I* could come back and go hungry.
Anyone who genuinely supports cutting food stamps is not an intellectual or an ideologue – they’re a bully.
And nobody likes a bully. Except other bullies.
It’s time for regular Americans to stand up to these bullies. Not cower in the corner, ashamed of needing help. Because if there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that you never know when you’ll be the one in need.
We need to stand up to bullies, not just because we, or someone we love may be the next to be bullied. We need to do it because it is the American thing to do, it is the moral thing to do.
"These same politicians are not willing to go to where the real money is: the Pentagon budget, which everyone knows to be the most wasteful in government spending, or the myriad subsidies to corporations, including agribusiness subsides to members of Congress who will be voting to cut SNAP for the poor. ... They are going after cuts to the poor and hungry people because they think it is politically safe to do so. So let’s call that what it is: moral hypocrisy."
I'm all for cutting fraud, waste, and abuse wherever it may be, whether it be in food stamps, or the Pentagon budget.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
The other night a solitary black man, trying to do his job was attacked by a group of drunk white college aged boys. He knew what he needed to do to finish his job. He faced them down from as safe a distance as he could. He smoked a cigarette, read a little bit from a book and bided his time.
As soon as his time was up, and the minimum requirements of his job was fulfilled, he beat a quick retreat.
The entertainment press went wild. Those who profit over the rude behavior of concert-goers wrote about his 'hissy fit' saying he had a melt down.
There is a great section in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where Thompson talks about being chased by a highway cop for speeding. He goes into a great description of driving like hell when chased, and stopping with bravado. The cop won't like it, he may even pull his gun, but you'll know and he'll know who was in control.
Yeah, Dave Chappelle had a melt down, right! Just like Hunter S. Thompson speeding to L.A. If I smoked cigarettes right now, I'd take a drag and look contemptuously at the crowd.
No, the people who had the melt down were the privileged drunk white boys and the leaches in the entertainment industry that make a buck off of them.
Probably the same leaches that used a fabricated child star, gave her a raunchy ill conceived and ill performed rip off of part of black culture. It is probably the same leaches that got all upset when we talked about how bad the performance was and how it only adds to sexism, racism, and the degradation and objectification of certain groups of people, instead of focusing on some other drama we have control over, like Syria.
No, from what I'm reading, Dave Chappelle's performance in Hartford was a masterpiece, long over due. it was John Cage's 4'33" performed in a not-so-post-racial twenty-first century in a large venue. Listen to the sound of the audience today. It was Martin Luther King's speech reworked to be a commentary on discourse and hecklers in the age of social media. I have a dream that thinkers, both great and small will not be heckled off the stage in Hartford, or online, or in high schools because they look different and say challenging things. It was a eulogy for Bart, the 15 year old boy who was heckled and bullied to death in Greenwich Connecticut.
Yet Dave Chappelle's exit from the stage also echoed a hopeful note. Like Maya Angelou, still Dave Chappelle rises
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
The first reports I'm hearing online this evening is that Chappelle killed it in Pittsburgh this evening.