With a decision looming about a City of Edmonds interlocal agreement with the Edmonds School District to schedule, operate and maintain fields being installed at the former Woodway High School, opponents of the fields’ tire crumb rubber surface once again made their feelings known to the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night.
All of the 13 people signed up to make public comments focused on health and environmental concerns related to the commonly used surface made from recycled tire crumbs, which has been linked anecdotally to cancer clusters among soccer goalies. Edmonds parent Steve Margo, a Boeing engineer, described his experiences as a volunteer soccer coach for Sno-King Youth Club, and his decision to keep his son home if any future games are played on the crumb rubber surface. “I prefer not to believe the science published by big business and its interests,” Margo said.
During the council comments section, Councilmember Joan Bloom reported that she and fellow Councilmembers Lora Petso and Kristiana Johnson met with School Superintendent Nick Brossoit regarding the turf fields issue. Also present at the meeting were School Board President Diana White and Board member April Nowak. This was the second time in recent weeks that Brossoit has met with Edmonds City Councilmembers, and according to Bloom the superintendent reassured councilmembers that the interlocal agreement now being considered by the council “is completely separate from our working relationship, and separate from any negotiations about other properties in the future,” Bloom said. This includes the city’s interest in the Civic Field property, which it is currently negotiating with the district to purchase.
Brossoit’s statement contrasts the one shared at last week’s council meeting by Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, which was reported last week in My Edmonds News after she and Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis and Mike Nelson met with the school superintendent. According to Fraley-Monillas, “the Superintendent made it very clear that if the city council does not enter into a partnership with the Edmonds School District, the Edmonds School District would no longer consider the city a partner in this, meaning the fields, and potentially other items.”
Fraley-Monillas reiterated Tuesday night that she stands by the statement as reported to the council last week.
Bloom said that during the councilmembers’ most recent meeting, both the Superintendent and School Board President White reiterated that “they felt they had done their due diligence in reviewing all of the turf infllls and they were done with that and were not going to consider anything else.” Board member April Nowak, a parent at Edmonds Heights K-12 school located next to the fields and the only school board member to vote against using the tire infill, “said that she felt very alone in standing up against the crumb rubber,” Bloom said, and wondered why the city council hadn’t also opposed the material. Nowak also said that city staff had told the district that both the council and the city were supporting installation of the crumb rubber.
Bloom urged Fraley-Monillas to schedule a joint meeting with the school board and the Verdant Health Commission next week, prior to the council making a decision regarding the proposed Interlocal Agreement to operate the fields.
“We have seen so many people come forward and say that they strongly oppose crumb rubber,” Bloom said. “We need to do our due diligence and give the school board another opportunity to look at a safer alternative infill.”