LARGO—Delegates and state legislators are hoping to pass a bill that will allow for the installation of a turf field at every high school in Prince George’s County. The fields would open doors for new and additional sports at high schools across the county, said State Senator Douglas J.J. Peters (D-23). “We are losing out […]
LARGO—Delegates and state legislators are hoping to pass a bill that will allow for the installation of a turf field at every high school in Prince George’s County.
The fields would open doors for new and additional sports at high schools across the county, said State Senator Douglas J.J. Peters (D-23).
“We are losing out on a lot of spring sports that we don’t have,” Peters said. “As a county, we do not have lacrosse as a varsity sport for men and women. We do not have field hockey as a varsity sport. And a lot of that has to do with the facilities.”
All of the schools have fields, but Peters said the schools only maintain them during football season. When the season ends, the schools reseed them and prepare them for the next football season.
In Anne Arundel County, Montgomery County, Baltimore City and Washington, D.C., many schools have artificial turf fields. Peters said the lack of turf fields in Prince George’s not only means less sports for students to participate in, but the county also misses out on producing scholarship athletes.
Some jurisdictions have more fields than others, Peters said, so finding a proper schedule to get them all installed is a difficult process. The fields would be jointly used, Peters said, and different teams could play on the same fields.
“The fields will have year-round use,” Peters said. “We’re trying to give each jurisdiction a new field.”
Adrian Gardner, general counsel for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, said the planning board is “extremely supportive” of the proposal but has concerns about where the revenue will come from.
“We do not disagree with the direction of this bill,” Gardner said. “There are some technical issues with the bill that we plan on working with the sponsors on because it doesn’t account for the fact is that what we’re doing is tying it to a funding source that may or may not be there.”
The bill needs to account for the state’s incoming budget deficit, Gardner said, and the fact that there may not be as much money available for open-space projects as originally anticipated.
Some citizens have also expressed safety concerns about turf fields.
Sydney Jacobs, a citizen from Adelphi, asked for legislators at a public hearing to oppose the bill because she believes turf fields are a health hazard for student-athletes. Turf is made from pulverized tires, she said, and contains materials that are hazardous to children such as arsenic, lead and benzene.
“(These chemicals) are hazardous and known to be harmful to human beings—especially children,” Jacobs said. “People who play on these fields and roll around on it breathe the gasses in.”
On a hot summer day, Jacobs said, the surface temperature on fields can rise to 115 degrees Fahrenheit and water resources have to be used to cool the fields down. Chemicals are used to remove the blood, sweat and animal feces from the fields, Jacobs said, and those chemicals will also adversely impact the people who play on the fields.
Delegate Derrick Davis said he looks forward to seeing artificial turf fields installed and he strongly supports the bill.
“I just think it’s a good idea. Some of those fields those kids play on now I played on 30 years ago,” Davis said. “I tore ligaments in my knee on the field at Central High School. I know just how bad of a shape those fields are in.”
Some of the testimony about the health hazards on the field is still very inconclusive, Davis said, and there are a lot of allegations being made without scientific support.
“It is worth investigating, but just from a safety aspect I know the dangers of playing on the fields we currently have,” Davis said.