On Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 7 p.m., the Park District of Highland Park will be holding a community meeting at West Ridge to discuss the issue of whether or not to spray herbicides on children’s playing fields. The athletic fields at issue are the entire Danny Cunniff Park, Fink Park baseball field and West Ridge south field.
Our community has shown support for the adoption and implementation of a long-term organic lawn care plan. More than 600 Highland Park residents have signed an online petition demanding that the Park District of Highland Park use chemical free lawn care. Additionally, at least 70 residents have emailed letters to the Park District expressing concern over the application of herbicides on children's playing fields. The Park District has not received any letters in support of the spraying.
The movement towards organic turf management and away from the use of lawn chemicals has been growing nationally, since herbicides have been linked with childhood cancer; asthma; neurological, behavioral, and immune system disorders; endocrine disruption; and reproductive impairment, among others.
The States of New York, Connecticut and Maine prohibit herbicides on school playgrounds, turf, or athletic fields. New Jersey has similar legislation pending. Approximately 80 percent of Canada, including the provinces of Toronto and Montreal, has banned the use of lawn pesticides because of the harm they pose, particularly to children.
Residents of Arcata, California, recognized that pesticides were dangerous and unnecessary and made a commitment to eliminate pesticides from all city properties. The City of Arcata has been managing all of their parks, sports fields, forests, open space and landscape areas without pesticides for the past 20 years. For their semi-professional baseball team, the Humboldt Crabs, the Park staff created the very first pesticide-free professional baseball field in the United States.
Dan Diemer, Arcata’s Superintendent of Parks, told me, “Families love the idea that their children are not exposed to pesticides and we advertise the fact that our parks and playgrounds are pesticide free. Our community and city council strongly support our maintenance practices and this has been especially evident during this economic downturn and our budget has not been cut.” Additionally, The City of Arcata “considers the safety of our maintenance staff and user groups to be number one priority.” “Our fields are used by Little League, Babe Ruth, American Legion, high schools, College/University, Humboldt Crabs (semi-pro) and we have not received complaints regarding unsafe conditions.“
The children of Highland Park deserve to have their health prioritized above playing field aesthetics. The many examples above demonstrate that athletic fields can be maintained without herbicides which compromise children’s health.
If you share concerns about the spraying of herbicides on children’s playing fields, please attend the October 11, 2011 community meeting at 7 p.m. at West Ridge Center.
Highland Park resident