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Open letter to the Malden City Council Finance Committee

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Dear Malden City Council Finance Committee,

  The Friends of Roosevelt Park are requesting the finance committee to delay a decision or not to approve an additional $2.5M for the Roosevelt Park Project.

  The funding for contamination removal should only be approved if it is tied to the installation of natural grass.

  The finance committee can make the first decision or stake in the ground for tipping the scales of environmental and social justice back to a more balanced representation of equity. Please keep in mind all other park renovations across the City will be natural living grass and there was extensive community outreach for planning and design. Anything less than a plan for natural grass for Roosevelt Park is an injustice for this neighborhood and this school community.

  Timeline of Cost Increases for this project:

5-1-2018         $2.4M  CPA Pre Application-Project Cost Projection

9-4-2018         $2.6M  CPA Application

9-25-2020       $3.6M  Project Increases (Additional $1.2M Section 108 Loan CBDG HUD)

4-25-2023       $6.1M  Project Increases (Additional $2.5M requested by Mayor Christenson)

  Members of the Friends of Roosevelt Park have taken the time to research, compare and question the line item costs associated with this project. The latest increase of $2.5M should be further investigated by the finance committee before approving.

  What is the true cost analysis of grass vs artificial turf – installation, maintenance and cost replacement every 8-10 years for artificial turf?

  We implore you to ask these questions as well:

  1. Why has nearly 700K already been spent on this project before any groundwork has actually taken place? Please review the line item costs and paid invoices.
  2. How much will the proposed artificial turf cost today? The Adelaide Breed Bayrd Foundation approved $660K to cover the cost of artificial turf back in 2018/2019. What are they willing to contribute now? Has their Board of Directors approved an increase in price?
  3. Why hasn’t the City of Malden sought out Brownfield Grant Funds as mentioned by Councillor Winslow in the Board of Health meeting? Councillor Winslow stated that the City could secure these funds to clean up the lead contamination?
  4. Why hasn’t the City of Malden applied for PARC grant funding for this project?
  5. Why hasn’t the City of Malden used ARPA funding to clean up the contamination?
  6. Why did the City of Malden use a Section 108 CDBG loan when other funds were readily available? (PARC grant, ARPA, Brownfield grants)
  7. Has the City secured funding from Rep. Katherine Clark’s office as mentioned previously? Have Rep. Clark and Senator Markey reviewed the latest funding plan?
  8. Has anyone on the council reached out to the Board of Health? No more funding should be approved before the Malden Board of Health has had an opportunity to make a recommendation as to whether artificial turf will be an undue health burden for the neighborhood and the Salemwood School children playing daily on this field for recess, before and after school during their K-8 years at the school. Health concerns are related to the heat island effect caused by excessive heat being emitted from the artificial turf. Excessive heat is detrimental to young children, older people and those who are compromised due to various health issues. Additional health concerns include exposure to PFAS, off gassing, microplastics, sports related injury and skin abrasions due to contact with play on plastic turf. Artificial turf is an unregulated product. There are many associated health concerns as mentioned above.
  9. There are several bills before the legislature directly related to the installation, recycling and safety of artificial turf, PFAS products and climate change mitigation. How will future legislation affect compliance with new legislation as well as costs of removing and disposing of artificial turf? Will products containing PFAS be more costly to dispose of? Will products made of plastic which are not being properly recycled be more costly to replace and remove?
  10. What is a true cost analysis of natural grass versus artificial turf? Artificial turf has a useful life of 8-10 years, at which time it must be removed and replaced for an estimated current cost of $650k-750k ($750k+ in 2020 costs according to Steve O’Neil at a previous finance committee meeting). If a natural grass field maintenance plan were to cost 25k per year, it would still be less costly than artificial turf. ($25k x 10yrs = $250k vs $750k to replace a new artificial turf field) Wouldn’t it make more fiscal sense for the City of Malden to invest in a professional grass maintenance program to maintain all of Malden’s grass parks which we are investing millions of dollars to improve?
  11. What is the utilization plan/schedule? (Malden Youth Soccer, high schools, Malden Recreation, private rentals)

  Approving an additional $2.5M to continue this project without doing a thorough investigation of spending, comparisons and cost projections is not prudent or responsible.

Thank you for your consideration.

Friends of Roosevelt Park Malden

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