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Some East Coast Cities Say No to Artificial Turf Fields
Money, not safety or health concerns, deciding issue

While health concerns involving lead from the turf are frequently raised, money is often the deciding issue, officials involved with the votes said.

On Feb. 8, a $38 million school bond referendum for infrastructure repairs, including three artificial turf fields, failed in Mamaroneck, N.Y., by 80 votes out of 4,440.

“The forces that came together were the bad economy, and the opposition to the synthetic turf put it over the top,” said Linnet Tse, school board president for the Mamaroneck district. “A number of people said it was just not the time, that it was not essential.” The group that opposed the bond for environmental concerns was relatively small, she said.

In December, voters in another part of Westchester County, Irvington, rejected their school district’s $6 million field renovation bond proposal, which included an artificial turf field, 1,358 to 387.

“I think the overwhelming reason that the bond issue for the fields did not pass was the overall economy combined with the very high tax burden in Irvington,” said Tanya Hunt, president of the school board. “But health issues did affect the vote.”

Also in December, the Borough of New Providence, N.J., rejected a resolution for park improvements that included an artificial turf field.

Earlier in 2008, the Pelham Union Free School District and the Hendrick Hudson School District, both in Westchester, passed bond issues for school infrastructure work, but simultaneous votes for artificial turf fields failed.

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