Monday, December 18, 2023

The Playing Fields of Doom?


At the very end of October I wrote about the County’s purchase of the East Columbia Library Park property and their their plans for the area. I felt positive about it. Not all of my readers felt the same. What I didn’t process fully at the time I wrote the piece is that replacing grass fields with synthetic turf was a component of the plan. I was disappointed to learn that. I’m not a fan of synthetic turf. When we visited the first playground put in at Blandair I was stunned to discover how hot it was to sit on. It holds the heat and is the last place you’d want to sit while watching your kids on the playground equipment. 

Now think about sporting events played on hot days. Synthetic turf is significantly hotter than the surrounding air temperature and it both holds and reflects the heat. Possible hazards include melting shoes, burning/blistering hands and feet, dehydration and heat stroke.*

Local environmental group Less Plastic, Please also opposes putting synthetic turf at the East Columbia Library Park site. They are asking the community to come out on Wednesday night to a meeting at Howard County Rec and Parks headquarters:

Pack the Room to Oppose Artificial Turf planned for East Columbia Library Park

Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.

Howard County Recreation & Parks Headquarters

(7120 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia)

Recreation & Parks Advisory Board Hearing

Please attend as we need a strong showing for opposing artificial turf


Image from Less Plastic Please social media 

Howard County has striven to be at the forefront of positive environmental change. Installing synthetic turf is at odds with our long term goals. It may seem like a maintenance-free solution but it causes long term environmental problems that persist longer than the life of the field itself.

A typical turf field comes with a warranty of 8-12 years. When that time is up, the field, which is made from layers of plastic and shredded tires or crumb rubber, is hauled away. Mary Lehman, a delegate from Maryland, heard from a constituent who saw rolls of used turf sitting in a vacant lot.

“The concern was that the crumb rubber infill was washing down the hill into a storm drain," she recalls. "I think everyone can agree we don’t want that happening. We don’t want shredded tires to end up in our waterways, and in Maryland pretty much everything ends up in the Chesapeake Bay.” - - New study casts doubt on safety of synthetic turf, RADIO IQ, Sandy Hausman

If you don’t have time to attend the meeting this week but you’d like to communicate your concerns to the Rec and Parks department, drop them a note. I’ll check around to find the correct email to submit your comments. If you have more information on this, let me know.

Village Green/Town² Comments

*Information from

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