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Turf wars

Posted by Ralph Ranalli September 13, 2007 02:33 PM

turfwars.JPG
Artificial turf foes Tom Sciacca of Wayland and Guive Mirfendereski of Newton measure the temperature in the artificial turf field at Veterans Memorial Athletic Complex in Waltham
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)

REGION

On a cloudless summer morning, Kurt Tramposch, a public health consultant from Wayland, looked out across acres of green, artificial-turf playing fields in Waltham. Others might have seen a vista of potential play, a landscape made for fun. Not Tramposch.

"Some of us look at this and see a tire dump," he said.

Tramposch and a small group of allies have come together to oppose what some call progress - a growing wave of installations of artificial turf throughout the western suburbs. They are fighting the battle on blogs, before town officials, and even in the state Legislature, arguing that there are too many health and environmental questions surrounding fake grass. In some communities, they have taken local officials to court, staff writer Megan Woolhouse reports.

The ringleaders don't have any formal name for their group, an unlikely conglomeration of individuals from diverse backgrounds who didn't know one another before debate on artificial turf erupted. One is a lawyer of Iranian descent who holds a PhD in international relations. A second is an MIT-trained electrical engineer and grandfather of three. Another is an accountant. Yet another is a public health consultant and cofounder of the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards. And they are unafraid to take on a very powerful force in local politics: sports boosters.

Their movement has met with some success. Town Meeting members in Wellesley, for example, voted against installing artificial-turf fields there last spring, saying they had too many questions about the project. But the opposition has bewildered sports boosters and parents who have crusaded to install artificial turf on the fields where their children play. And in some cases, the debate has pitted parents, many of whom moved to the suburbs for the schools, against environmentalists and longtime town residents.

Read more about artificial turf wars in the online edition of today's Globe West.

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