Rye City Council weighs turf field proposal
A proposal to turn a natural grass field into a turf field in Rye is drawing some concerns.
It’s called the Nursery Field Improvement Project, a plan that involves replacing an existing grass athletic field with a synthetic turf at a 6 3/4-acre city owned property on Milton Road.
The Rye City Council took public comments on the project proposal last week drawing residents on both sides of the issue.
"Rye fields are closed about 60% to 70% of the year,” said Chris Cunningham, a board member with the 501(c)(3) group called “Let the Kids Play.”
The organization is raising money and has offered to pay up to $3 million to add a second turf field in the city.
Residents are concerned about constant sports game and practice cancellations due to rain and muddy field conditions and feel that adding a turf field will ensure kids in the city have adequate access to outdoor activities.
"We just need more outdoor space for our kids to play," said Cunningham.
A group called “The Friends of Nursery Field” oppose the proposal and would like to see the field stay natural grass.
"What we'd like to see is the field to be renovated and have better drainage and everything else,” said Dan Adler, member of The Friends of Nursery Field.
Adler lives right next to the field and said he is not against giving kids more access to green space, he is concerned the turf field will contribute to flooding in an area that is devastated by storms frequently.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense to me and a lot of other people to cover a wetland with a carpet, with a plastic carpet,” he said.
Rye Mayor Josh Cohn said the turf field project would include elevating the field above the FEMA 100-year flood elevation, and would have sub-surface drainage measures implemented.
He said turf is the best option to make the field more accessible.
"Even were we to overhaul it as a grass field it so heavily used that we would kill the grass and essentially revert to the same situation we have now,” Mayor Cohn said.
He added, the city would not use products in the turf field that contain harmful PFAS chemicals which may cause cancer.
In addition to health and environmental concerns, The Friends of Nursery Field are also concerned that a turf field would have a negative impact on the neighborhood which is home to many historic sites including Westchester’s oldest home, the Knapp House, which would be directly next door to the new field.
The project proposal has already received unanimous approval by the cities planning board and is now before the city council for final approval.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6, 2023 at 6:30 pm.