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Parks & Rec roundup: PFAS concerns unlikely to delay turf field replacement

by | Feb 2, 2022 | Featured: News, News

At its meeting on Tuesday, the Parks & Recreation Commission discussed developments regarding the Fruit Street fields turf replacement project as well as property requests and summer programming.

Per a request from the Conservation Commission regarding concerns about potential PFAS exposure, the Department of Public Works’ engineering firm, Weston & Sampson, was asked to evaluate the Fruit Street fields project in January. This week, Chair Dan Terry and Parks & Recreation Department Director Jay Guelfi attended a meeting with town officials and experts from Weston & Sampson to discuss the situation. “Their conclusion was that there really wasn’t a high risk of exposure for PFAS from the remnants [of the existing field] and the future materials,” Guelfi reported to the commission.

Because PFAS are so ubiquitous, there is a chance that PFAS are present under the existing field, Terry elaborated, but “the fact that it’s present doesn’t mean the field caused it,” he said, particularly because no initial testing was done prior to installation. “So, there’s no way we’re going to come to a real strong conclusion,” Terry said.

Terry reported that Conservation Commission Chair Jeff Barnes acknowledged that the right path forward is to ensure that when the old field is pulled up that as little crumb rubber as possible is left behind.

Terry also noted that past studies sponsored by municipalities in Massachusetts have concluded that crumb rubber fields were not a contributor to PFAS problems. These reports will be provided to the Conservation Commission, which is scheduled to meet on Feb. 8. At that meeting, the Parks & Recreation Department’s pending request for a determination of applicability for the turf field replacement is to be discussed.

“Going forward,” Terry said, “we’re going to have it in our bid documents that whatever materials are being used do not have PFAS and that there’s no likelihood of contamination going forward.” Terry anticipates bid documents to be released in March and that the project will remain on schedule.

Property requests approved

The commission approved Christopher Stevenson’s request to use the Sandy Beach Parking lot as a staging area for the start and end of the Maspenock Mile Road Race on May 27. The mile-long race will be a loop around the area and is a grassroots effort by Stevenson, an avid runner who is “looking to promote a healthy neighborhood and get some folks to the lake.”

A request from the Hopkinton Parent Teacher Association (HPTA) also was approved with regard to using the Victory Field parking lot to stage trailers and equipment from June 20-26 for its annual summer carnival.

Additional updates shared

Summer program registration opened on Feb. 1 and Guelfi reported that the department was surprised and encouraged by strong registration numbers on day one of the “soft opening.” The department recorded 165 first-day registrations, compared to 140 registrations in the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Tennis, in particular, is “through the roof,” Guelfi said. He speculates that people are anticipating a future with fewer COVID restrictions. “I’m feeling good about the summer,” Guelfi added.