Berkeley Daily Planet
3023A Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94705
Three days before her February community meeting (on going green), Oakland City council President Jane Brunner announced she would spend 3.3 million dollars of measure WW park funds on an artificial turf soccer field to be placed on top of the blacktop play area behind the old Washington School, now Sankofa Academy. It appears from her announcement that Jane has the power over park expenditures in her North Oakland district.
Bushrod Park, perhaps the largest park in North Oakland, already has three baseball fields, a soccer field, tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts and a recreation center. In fact, nearly ninety percent of of the park is given over to organized sports. There is no dog run, no natural area, bare picnic facilities, a poor children's playground and little flat space for unorganized play. Now Brunner wants to cover, not remove, a large section of blacktop that in the winter floods onto Shattuck Avenue.
Artificial turf has become controversial across the United States for many reasons including; Friction between skin and artificial turf causes abrasions and/or burns to a much greater extent than natural grass, turf-toe is a medical condition often associated with playing on artificial turf pitches. A higher incidence of MRSA infections because pathogens are not readily broken down by natural processes and periodic disinfection is required. Artificial turf can become much hotter than natural grass when exposed to the sun, for cushioning it requires infill such as silicon sand and/or granulated rubber made from recycled car tires which may carry heavy metals. It has a short life span (10 year or less), can fail earlier and finally, artificial turf contributes to the loss of parks jobs and local funds are spent out of state for a manufactured petroleum product, and more petroleum is needed for shipping and installation.
Artificial turf is not guaranteed against accident, machinery, spiked shoes, animals, misuse, fire, flood, chemical reactions, acts of God, static or dynamic loads exceeding the manufacturers specifications at time of installation, improper or faulty subsurface preparation, failure of the subsurface after the installation including settling of the surface, and the use of dry cleaning fluids or other improper cleaning methods. Artificial turf is subject to vandalism and even if the up-front costs are said to be cheaper, there is little research on its costs versus benefits.
It is great that Councilmember Brunner is seeking to improve Bushrod Park, but there has never been a task force to analyze the wishes of the neighborhood and park users. In addition, Brunner will likely be forced to do spend additional funds for an environmental impact report on the project. Community members are invited to comment; firstname.lastname@example.org (510) 238-7001