At Selectman Kathleen Corbet’s prompting, the town plans to re-examine a longstanding policy whereby pesticides are used on some of New Canaan’s athletic fields.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said last week that it’s “entirely appropriate we revisit this topic.”
“It’s one I know very little about and I think the fact that we now have turf fields has changed things,” Moynihan said during the Board of Selectmen’s Sept. 8 meeting, held via videoconference.
“And I also don’t know quite what role the Fields Committee should play in this versus Parks & Recreation versus the Town Council, so we’ll further analyze this. I know [Public Works Director] Tiger [Mann] and [Parks Superintendent] John Howe have their own views on this topic. So we will bring this back when we investigate some of those other points of contact as to who has responsibility for this policy.”
The town several years ago moved away from using pesticides on school grounds, as per state law and the recommendations of an ad hoc local committee. Yet it still applies the chemicals on Waveny, Conner Field and Mead Park athletic fields where the same schoolchildren play sports, Corbet noted at a selectmen meeting last month.
Corbet questioned what she described as an apparent inconsistent use of pesticides as the selectmen approved $140,000 in contracts for the purchase and application of grass treatment products on athletic fields at New Canaan schools and parks. Responding to Corbet, parks officials said a single midsummer application is effective, saves money and makes the fields safer by removing weeds that could trip up young athletes. That meeting ended with Corbet agreeing to walk the grounds with Mann and Howe.
At last week’s meeting, Corbet reported that she’d since gone on that “field trip” and spent time “just talking to a number of people.” In addition to public parks officials, others walking the grounds included Town Councilmen Robin Bates Mason and Tom Butterworth.
In 2010, the state legislature banned the application of EPA-registered pesticides on schools serving children in kindergarten through eighth grade. New Canaan long has celebrated a municipal committee’s recommendation to extend the policy to cover the high school, too.
Corbet said she is in touch with the head of the New Canaan Athletic Foundation and that she would share more information on the town’s review of the pesticide policy at the selectmen’s Sept. 22 meeting.