To the editor:
A well-rounded education requires the infrastructure necessary to support student growth. Musicians should have instruments, actors should have a theater, and athletes should have …
To the editor:
A well-rounded education requires the infrastructure necessary to support student growth. Musicians should have instruments, actors should have a theater, and athletes should have adequate fields. This infrastructure is an investment in the town and the educational system we all value. The lack of practice space and adequate facilities has been a town-wide issue for decades, impacting all athletes. Currently, the only way to ensure Barrington student-athletes and Barrington teams have reliable field access, is to leave Barrington. For the younger age groups, that means local teams are losing players to club programs. For the older age groups, that means renting of space and commuting. In all instances, it means youth sports become less equitable, less accessible, and more expensive.
We want to start by commending the work the DPW does with respect to the fields. They do a great job with the tools they have at their disposal; however, no amount of work can replace the fact that fields need to be rested and with too few fields, that is impossible. Also, we want to commend the Town Council for taking this issue on and for their commitment to finding a solution. This is a hard issue, as evidenced by the fact that it has come up repeatedly, and has been tabled, for decades. In those decades, Barrington student-athletes have suffered. They have not had the same opportunities and facilities as their peers in other communities.
The three pieces highlighted at the recent Town Council meeting represent a real solution to the issue at hand. All three are needed. The sooner we make this investment, the sooner it will begin paying dividends. In 2023, we believe having additional fields, including artificial turf fields, constitute critical infrastructure.
We also want to address the three items commonly raised against turf fields that are identified in the Town Council presentation: (1) health and safety; (2) environmental; and (3) cost. With respect to health and safety - there are experts in our community with firsthand knowledge of the data, studies, and impacts. Let’s engage the experts on these points to have reasonable and thoughtful discussions. While not experts ourselves, we are versed in the studies and have firsthand knowledge, having played on turf surfaces for most of our own lives and having now watched our kids play on turf surfaces for years. Turf fields are a part of sports. Every Barrington student-athlete that plays a field sport will practice or play on turf. They play on turf at PCD, Moses Brown and Wheeler, and they play on turf at indoor facilities in North Kingstown, North Smithfield, Seekonk, Somerset and Tiverton (to name a few). Every high school lacrosse player plays every away game on turf. In our experience, there is no discernible difference in injuries on artificial turf versus grass. Same with environmental concerns – lets engage the experts and have a discussion. The current fields use fertilizer and chemicals, which are certainly not ideal; while newer turf fields and technology have vastly improved materials that limit their environmental impact.
With respect to cost, this one will boil down to whether we want this as a community. It will be an investment to the town, its educational system, and our youth. Let’s all keep an open mind and help find the most cost-effective solution for the town.
Hopefully we as a community can work together to solve this forty-year-old problem.
Christina and Joshua Glass