To the Editor:
The new running track in Jackson Park has a synthetic turf infield.
In sports arenas where teams play every day, synthetic turf is acceptable. In the parks, it is not a good idea. Synthetic turf wipes out the entire soil ecosystem wherever it is laid down. It contributes to the urban heat island because it is similar to blacktop as far as heat accumulation.
It isn’t the synthetic turf that causes the worst problems, it is the six-inch layer of ground-up tires they put down underneath it. When this material gets wet – and it does – all manner of bacteria, fungi, and viruses can grow on it. That can cause some serious health problems. On a warm day, that material evaporates up through the synthetic turf.
Synthetic turf is an environmental and ecological mistake. The variety of soil dwelling creatures, from nematodes to earthworms to 17-year cicadas, are wiped out. This is the base of a food chain that goes up from here – To insects, to birds, to all wildlife.
Synthetic turf suffocates that system.
Grass, on the other hand, is a plant. It absorbs carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen. We have grown grass for centuries. It is far safer than synthetic turf.
Synthetic turf causes dangerous friction burns and has a higher rate of ligament injuries than turf grass. Synthetic turf also supports bacteria on its surface, and these plastic blades can be quite sharp, leading to infection.
The old running track had a grass football field in the center. It was covered in grass, and students sat on the rubber track during football games. During track meets, the opposite took place. This was an important facility for HP High. It was removed, without community input.
We want a running track with a turf grass center to accommodate both football and soccer. At present, this synthetic turf does not accomplish that.
It is a huge waste of money. And it’s taking football away from school kids.