Even though it’s been proven that the artificial turf being installed in our city parks gets hot enough to send you to the emergency room, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe insists on continuing to replace grass fields with it, supposedly in order to reduce maintenance hours and costs. Unfortunately, his strategy is not accomplishing that, either.

In May of this year, the Daily News published an article that mentioned the results of a report commissioned by the Department of Health as to whether or not the crumb rubber infill used on the turf contained toxic chemicals. From “Turf war sizzles at city's parks” by Kathleen Lucadamo, May 15, 2008:

The report highlights a study done that found artificial turf at the University of Missouri hit 173 degrees on a 98-degree day while a nearby grass field hovered at 105 degrees.

To address possible overheating of players at city parks, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has started to install water “misters” near benches at fields.

Suddenly, the cost of the turf just went up considerably. How many tax dollars will be wasted to install misters because Parks failed to realize that the turf gets too hot – something any 1st grader could have explained to them? Unfortunately, the stupidity doesn’t end there.
From another Daily News report entitled, “Parks' fake grass can reach a scorching 162 degrees” by Jeff Wilkins and Elizabeth Hays, printed on July 5th, 2008:

Over two mildly warm days last month, The News took surface temperature readings at five synthetic fields across the city accompanied by NYC Park Advocates, a group that has been critical of the fake grass.

“The temperatures can get very high during the heat of the day. But people are smart. They are not going to use a place that is uncomfortable to play on,” said Liam Kavanagh, first deputy parks commissioner.

Got that? If not, allow me to summarize the logic of the Parks Department:

The fields get used too much, so we need fake grass. But the fake grass gets too hot, so don’t play on it. In addition, since Parks requires that teams obtain permits in advance to play on certain fields, what is the alternative if the assigned field is too hot on game day? These inconvenient facts kind of defeat the purpose of installing the stuff in the first place.

While you ponder this, realize that even Gas Tank Park, slated to open as a passive park in 2010, is going to feature an area of artificial turf for multi-use activity.

Absurd? Of course! We have learned to expect nothing less from the leadership of our Parks Department.