The Town of Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted in favor of installing a second synthetic turf field at Hamden High School, despite health and safety warnings.
With limited field space on school grounds, town officials say the new field will allow multiple teams to practice and play games at the high school, instead of having to travel to alternative locations.
“This will enable students to have full access to all the medical facilities available at the high school as opposed to when they’re on the road,” Hamden Legislative Council President James Pascarella said.
Long-time Hamden resident Martin Mador spoke out against the new turf field at Tuesday night’s planning and zoning meeting.
“I would like to see the town have good environmental policies that are protective of its residents,” said Mador, who is the legislative and political chair for the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Mador said enough evidence suggests there are harmful health consequences for student-athletes playing on turf fields.
“Because of their exposure to toxic chemicals contained in the crumb rubber which is used to create the fields, (they) have actually developed cancers,” Mador said.
While Mador and other opponents say Hamden should put a halt on the project, town officials say they are moving forward until there is a definitive study linking crumb rubber turf fields and cancer.
“The moment a study like that should come and be produced,” Pascarella said, “then we would stop the project and replace the in-fill.”
Pascarella said there are 27 studies showing that synthetic turf is safe. Hamden High School’s football field is already made with crumb rubber.
The federal government has commissioned a study investigating the potential health risks of turf fields and playgrounds made with crumb rubber.
Hamden is looking for a construction company to take up the project and break ground in late spring, Pascarella said.