Is Westfield a “Green Town,” unfortunately only from a marketing, naming and image perspective. When a person, organization, town, etc… take a stance / make a claim, they need to live up to it and walk the walk. Sadly, the Mayor and the Green Team pick and choose when to apply their collective principles; hyping any accomplishment and ignoring massive contradictions.
With some goals being achieved the Green Team and the Mayor took a victory lap, just prior to the election, culminating in an electric vehicle event on Sat. Oct 2. While touting the enormity of their accomplishments at events, I found it odd that the Mayor, standing with members of the Green Team, neglected to acknowledge their intention of plastering over a massive area of our town with artificial turf (plastic grass). Yes, the Mayor and her team are dead set on installing plastic grass behind Edison school, Memorial Park and Elm Street; according to their plan this is just the beginning.
The audacity and hypocrisy of claiming to be green and taking a victory lap while backing multiple projects that once completed will cover the area of approximately 45 avg sized home lots in Westfield with plastic grass that contains dozens of chemicals many of which are classified as carcinogens is laughable. One particularly nasty chemical, PFAS (Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and bio-accumulate in the food chain. Plastic grass and the filler, the small rubber pellets made from tires, comes from crude oil. Since the Green Team remains silent on the projects, I guess they are all good with crude oil, so long as it supports Mayor Brindle’s plans.
Plastic grass cannot be recycled, lasts only 8-10 years, requires an additional 2-3 tons of new fill each year per field, creates heat islands (which the Town actually states they are against creating), and contains dangerous and unhealthy chemicals. According to Penn State and BYU studies, plastic grass has surface temperatures that reach 140 -170 degrees Fahrenheit on hot sunny days and runs 37 degrees hotter than asphalt. Go stand on an asphalt parking lot on a sunny day and imagine kids at recess, band practice or playing games on a surface 37 degrees hotter; that is what Mayor Brindle is supporting 100%. Try touching a surface 140-170 degrees hot, do not hold your hand there long; it will burn you. So, what becomes of old worn-out fields? Some farmers in PA are paid to store turf fields in piles on their land, even the land fills do not want it.
Tell the Mayor and the Green Team to stand on their principles and demonstrate real leadership, drop turf fields and use natural grass. Tell them to not reflect the poor leadership we all complain about from D.C., regardless of party, and demonstrate some genuine leadership; If they will not or cannot, they should step down and allow true leaders to come forth.
Stephen Kircher, 10/7/21