Town officials on Tuesday approved two contracts worth a total of approximately $152,000 for grass treatment at New Canaan’s parks and school athletic fields.
The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 in favor of contracts that will see grass treatments including the application of pesticides and fertilizers in some cases, according to John Howe, superintendent of parks with the New Canaan Department of Public Works.
Exactly how chemicals are applied depends on factors such as how much use a field gets (for instance, Irwin Park has “very little use”), and whether it’s a school field, Howe told the selectmen at their regular meeting, held in Town Hall.
“We don’t apply any pesticides to the school athletic fields, but we do have one application on park fields for grubs, broad-leaf weeds and crabgrass,” Howe said.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, and Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams voted in favor of a $131,200 contract with Burlington, Mass.-based Tom Irwin Inc. for the purchase of grass treatment products and a $21,016 contract with Harwinton-based Championship Turf for the application of the products.
Asked by Williams whether the Board of Education prohibits the use of pesticides on school fields, Howe said that there is a state law banning the use of “turf grass pesticides” in schools serving children through eighth grade. The DPW chooses not to use any pesticides at the high school either, Howe said.
Some town fields, on the other hand, do receive a pesticide application—for example, Conner Field on Farm Road.
“And nobody’s died?” Williams said.
Howe said that since 2013, the department has hired two separate companies to acquire and also apply the grass treatment products.
“What it’s done for us is: We know exactly how much we’re putting down, we know exactly what we’re putting down, so we control that,” he said.
Howe said that the DPW has moved away from using turf sod on some of the town’s athletic fields, instead moving toward “aggressively overseeding throughout the year.”
Overseeding is the process of spreading grass seed over existing grass to thicken and improve coverage.
“We’re better off spending the money on the seed instead of the sod,” Howe said.
“Sod’s expensive and it also doesn’t hold up well. It gives you instant green but it’s really tough to keep it going,” he added.