Councilmember Berliner Applauds Council “Turning the Page” on Artificial Turf (VIDEO)
Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, Chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee, applauded the Feb. 10 unanimous approval by the Council of a resolution that he introduced supporting the use of plant-derived materials for infill in future artificial turf field projects.
“For years, community members have expressed concerns about the potential health and environmental impacts of crumb rubber used in our County’s artificial turf fields,” said Councilmember Berliner. “Today, our County turns the page on this debate. Going forward, our artificial turf fields will use plant-derived materials that do not pose health or environmental concerns. Significantly, this is a decision that has the unanimous support of the Council, our Parks Department and our school system.”
Over the course of several years and in the context of various projects, the Council has thoroughly and continuously reviewed the pros and cons of artificial turf and monitored the most current scientific information available on the subject. Following an interagency staff report on artificial turf in 2012, the T and E Committee recommended that the County adopt several best practices for procurement and operations.
In addition to the 2012 report, the Council also has continuously expressed interest in alternative technology in the area of infill material other than crumb rubber. In October 2014, Councilmembers Berliner, Sidney Katz and George Leventhal and Council staff visited the newly opened artificial turf field at Lakelands Park in the City of Gaithersburg. The field uses a plant-based infill comprised of a mix of coconut fiber, cork and rice husks.
A review done by the Parks Department, which was discussed at a recent joint session of the Council’s T and E Committee and its Education Committee, confirmed that plant-based infill materials are a viable alternative and can be successfully used to build and maintain artificial turf fields going forward. Both the Parks Department and Montgomery County Public Schools have stated their commitment to pursuing alternate infill materials in future field installations.
The next two projects requiring new fields in the County likely will be the replacement of the Winston Churchill High School stadium grass field in Potomac and a playing field at the Laytonia Recreational Park in Derwood.
“As we move forward with new artificial turf projects in the County, we as policymakers will continue to do the best we can to balance the increasing demand for playing fields in our County with the need to best protect our children and provide our parents with greater peace of mind about the fields their children are playing on,” said Councilmember Berliner.
Councilmember Berliner’s resolution was originally co-sponsored by Councilmembers Katz, Leventhal, Marc Elrich, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer.