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Chemical-Use Signs to Go Up at Fields

Barrington Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. is working with the Conservation Commission to attach signs that explain the treatment of the town's playing fields with synthetic fertilizers.

Expect to see metal signs in a few weeks at all of Barrington’s playing fields that describe the synthetic fertilizers used on them and when the chemicals are applied.

The signs will attempt to make parents aware of the chemicals used on the fields by the Department of Public Works.

The signs are part of a proposal by the Conservation Commission to begin treating all of the town’s playing fields with organic pesticides and herbicides that has been titled Barrington Environmentally Safe Turf (BEST).

“I’m very happy,” said Cynthia Fuller, chair of the Conservation Commission. “It’s a positive thing. I would have liked to see a move to use less chemicals. But as long as people are informed and they are made aware, they can make their own decisions on letting their children play on the fields."

Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. told the Town Council at its Monday night meeting that he would work with Fuller to create and attach the signs. BEST was on the agenda for more discussion. He said there was no need for a specific decision by the Town Council. He would handle the issue administratively.

“She is really driving this,” DeAngelis said of Fuller. “She told me in a email that she will draft wording for the signs. I expect to receive that within the next week.”

At least one sign will be attached on a fence at all of the playing fields, DeAngelis said. He expects the signs to be about the size of a license plate, perhaps a bit larger.

“They will tell people what fertilizers are applied and when they are applied,” he said.

The same information can be found on the Department of Public Works website, DPW Director Alan Corvi told the Town Council on Monday.

Fuller said she would like to see a sign at each entrance to a playing field – “a location where it can be seen by people,” she said.

Getting information out there on the maintenance of the fields is a big step, Fuller said.

“People can then make an informed decision,” she said. “It isn’t coming down from on high from the Town Council or the Conservation Commission.”

BEST had been rejected previously by the Parks and Recreation Commission after a presentation by DPW’s field maintenance supervisor, John Renquinha.

‘We’re already above the state requirements” in keeping fields as safe as possible for children using the field, Renquinha told the recreation board.

He also said the existing field-management program cost of about $35,000 a year using primarily synthetic products could quadruple in price if mostly organics are used.

Organic products also don’t do as good a job of growing grass, said Renquinha. That could mean coming up with a standard for the fields that everyone would be willing to tolerate, he said.

There also does not seem to be an outcry from people about using synthetic fertilizers on the fields, said Mike Seward, chairman of the recreation commission.

At least people will now have information about the treatment of the playing fields, said Fuller. If they want to complain, they will have some information to do so.

“The signs seem fair,” she said. “They can give people a better understanding.”

The signs are expected to go up in early October, DeAngelis said.

Manifold Witness September 14, 2012 at 11:39 AM
So the school gym classes won't be using the fields anymore? When will the schools be sending home "informed consent" forms with full disclosure on the chemicals used? Some parents care enough to opt out of having their children access the chemical-laden lawns. Thank you.

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