On Tuesday, the Edmonds School Board made the decision to install a crumb rubber/artificial turf field at Former Woodway High School. It was a disappointing vote for the large group of community members, parents and students who have been urging the board to go with an alternative infill material for the proposed synthetic turf field. Crumb rubber is made from recycled used tires and used as an infill material on synthetic turf fields. There has been mounting nationwide concern that exposure to crumb rubber may lead to an increase in cancer, particularly among children. Additionally, there are concerns about runoff entering Olympic View water supply, nearby Deer Creek, and potential for harm to migratory birds in the wooded area surrounding the fields, an area designated a Washington State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Area.
Following the vote, School Board President Diana White stated “Do I serve a small population of students from Edmonds Heights and Scriber or do I help the 4,000 student-athletes and community who will use this field to its fullest potential and the answer is easy for me.” White’s statement was an insult to all, but especially to the neighbors and community members, those without students on campus, who turned out to speak. Not surprisingly, as this was a school board meeting, there were many with school children in attendance; there was also an Edmonds’ City Council meeting at the same time which other community members attended. It should also be noted that not one person present spoke in favor of the current field plan.
To infer that the Edmonds Heights community was being self-centered and attempting to keep the fields to themselves was a complete manipulation of the message presented. The majority message was “Safe athletic/playfields for ALL”….EVERYONE, including athletes from other schools, community sports, surrounding community, and of course the programs located on that campus. That is anything but self-serving! We are addressing the health of all who will use the field. Additionally, Washington State Senator Maralyn Chase, who has no personal ties to the school, spoke on the unknowns with crumb rubber safety. She strongly encouraged a delay on the vote while its safety was studied. What an insult to her and her time to suggest that those who opposed the plan were only from the Edmonds Heights community
The morning following the vote ESD Superintendent Nick Brossoit suggested posting warning signs for all athletic fields. I believe this is less out of public concern and more of a CYA move, but I am thankful, at least the information may get out. We have helped spread the word to a much larger audience, who if concerned can take measures to protect their children when playing on this type of field.
Considering the lessons we have learned about tobacco, asbestos, lead paint, and pesticide use, which were all once touted as safe…..why risk making the same mistake, especially when there are safer options available? It should also be noted that, as reported by My Edmonds News, Verdant was open to the possibility of providing additional money to cover the cost of a expensive type of artificial turf, if the district was to make the request. Sadly, they did not make a request.
While we may not have been able to get ESD to make the safer choice for these two fields, this isa much larger issue. It is disappointing Edmonds School District does not choose to act on this now and be on the forefront of our children’s and community’s safety…they may pay a big price catching up later.
Deflated, but not defeated,