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In favor of natural grass at Roosevelt Park

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Dear Malden Public Schools Committee Members,

  As you may be aware, the City of Malden is planning on removing the grass on Roosevelt Park to install an artificial (plastic grass field).
There are several important reasons why we feel the Malden School Committee is obligated to voice their concerns to City of Malden leadership about this project.

  First, plastic grass poses unknown health dangers to children. There are numerous studies stating that exposure to plastic grass, the chemical substances it contains, and the effects from heat island exposure, created by these fields, are dangerous to young children and their developing endocrine systems. These fields and the materials they are made of are unregulated.

  Second, the project itself is in complete opposition to the protocols of environmental justice (EJ). There was no notification or inclusion of the primary stakeholders during the design and planning stages unlike the extensive outreach and community involvement in the planning of 3 other park renovations. Voices of opposition from the community, students, their families, and the voices of the surrounding neighborhood have been discounted, and silenced in some instances, throughout this process. The Environmental Justice neighborhood and the Salemwood School Community are predominantly English Language learners, people of color and categorized as economically disadvantaged.

  It is not enough for our leaders to talk about a commitment to environmental, climate and social justice issues. We must act on those ideals.

  Environmental Justice, according to the EPA means: People have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health;

  The third reason is the MA Curriculum Science Standards require educators to teach students about the Earth and the Impact of Human Activity as related to rising global temperatures and preserving our natural environment.

  And fourth, studies on children’s health state that exposure to natural green environments improve the physical and mental health of children and contributes to their overall well-being.

  In summary, we implore you to use your leadership to protect the students at the Salemwood School by ensuring the toxins presently in the soil at Roosevelt Park are properly cleaned up and a natural grass surface is used to renovate this park. Please keep in mind that the children at the Salemwood School ARE the primary users of this space.

  We have researched the costs of grass. It is less costly over time to maintain and manage. We have been in contact with natural organic grass consultants including the National Grass Advisory Board, landscape architects, and UMASS TURI (Toxic Use Reduction Institute).

  In other words, we have done our homework. A natural grass park is a viable and affordable option for Roosevelt Park at the Salemwood School. And we have submitted an alternative plan for renovation of the park to the Community Preservation Committee.

  The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states “The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a livable future.” And just this past week the United Nations signed a treaty to end plastic pollution across the world.

  We must, as a community, lead by example. Preserve our green space. Preserve our environment. Decrease plastic pollution. Listen to our children. The future is theirs.


Kathleen Sullivan

Friends of Roosevelt Park and the Salemwood School Community

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