This is Not Preservation, Protection, Progress and Promise

I have lived in Westfield for 45 years, my children played sports here and my husband coached and refereed soccer for 12 years, driving all over for practices and games.

We would not take back a single minute of the time we volunteered and spent doing that, as we’ve been more than amply rewarded by memories that reflect some of the best times we’ve
shared in our 50+ years of marriage. It’s virtually impossible for us to watch young parents on
the sidelines of a game or a meet and not reminisce as we see ourselves in the Spring and Fall of our young lives.

I am a member of – Citizens for Responsible Athletic Field Development and direct this letter to those who may consider CRAFD as “adversaries”.

I want you all to know that I am a mother (to 3) and grandmother (to 4) and that my
entire caregiving adult life has been richly fulfilling in advocacy for and about children. I’ve been a substitute teacher in every Westfield school from pre-K to WHS, class mother, a Girl Scout Leader for many years, F.L.A.G. immersion language teacher, civic & religious organization fundraiser and front line worker. Once again, I wouldn’t trade one minute of that time, recognizing that it’s been a privilege that has afforded me opportunities to
learn some things that only the profound simplicity of children can teach us about life and relationships. Therefore, I wholeheartedly join you in “fighting for” what is in the best interests of Westfield’s children.

I grant you that having nearby, readily accessible sports fields so that kids
don’t have to be shuttled far is important, as is having sustainable fields that
require the least cost, ongoing maintenance and that are “going to last” (as one person put it). The question that needs enlightened consideration is: What is the REAL cost of these proposed changes?

Are we willing to ignore the precautionary principle that calls for us to resist the introduction of a product whole “ultimate effects are disputed”? Are we willing to gamble that the health
concerns of synthetic turf are totally unwarranted? I, regretfully, have been woefully ignorant
of these industry-dismissed findings. I was also ignorant of the tobacco industry’s blatantly unscrupulous marketing and lobbying efforts to sell their product (at the irreversible expense to my then 20-year-old lungs).

I have made up for lost time and invested well over 100 hours in the past 3 months educating myself about synthetic turf. The stuff is poison from manufacturing to usage to disposal at “end of life”. The “Westfield Together” lofty and well-intentioned Platform neglects one of the most important “P” words germane to our issue: POLLUTION. Pollution that is killing every living organism on this planet and, even worse, the carcinogens and endocrine disruptors that will surely pollute our children’s sacrosanct bodies.

This is a very important new “fork in the road” for Westfield. It will set precedent and embolden what have been regrettable past installations of synthetic turf. It will determine (for better or worse) town policy extending the use of this petrochemical plastic product, the purchase and use of which run totally counter to the PRESERVATION, PROTECTION, PROGRESS AND PROMISE that the current administration laudably expounds.

What else are we willing to pay in exchange for these “important” needs? Are we willing to
sacrifice the trust demanded when one expects to impart values and raise community-minded
citizens who will want to protect the environment and adhere to mandates about recycling plastic and reducing their carbon footprint? Are we willing to answer that 16 year old who rightfully admonished us with “how DARE you?”. The same Greta Thunberg who
reminded us “There is a risk, when one is vocal about things and then don’t practice as you preach, that then you will become criticized for that and [that] what you are saying won’t be taken seriously”.

Don’t take my word for anything. Do your own reading, research and have open-minded, civil discussions about this. Most of all, do what is RIGHT, do what is RESPONSIBLE….don’t
take the easy road if that will cost you in ways that are far more consequential that appear
on the “surface”. Let’s find a way to “craft” a good solution that addresses our needs,
the environment and the health and safety of our children.

Maria R. Todaro

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