Piedmont Neighborhood News

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Posts Tagged ‘havens elementary’

Green Forum on Synthetic Turf – Thur Sept 24th 7:00pm, PMS Mutlipurpose Room

Posted by movenden on September 22, 2009


As many of you know, the School Board is reconsidering what the surface for the playfield at the new Havens School should be.  The plan had been (and currently still is) for a synthetic turf field, but, in light of concerns about the health and environmental safety of the crumb rubber infill in most synthetic turf, as well as neighbors’ concerns about use issues, the School Board is considering the possibility of changing the surface to something else (grass or an infill alternative).

We know this is an issue many of you care about and want to learn more about. This Thursday, Sept  24, 7:00-8:30 p.m., the “Green Forum on Synthetic Turf,” sponsored by the PUSD Green Committee, at the Piedmont Middle School Multipurpose Room (740 Magnolia Ave) provides the opportunity to do so.  The district is hiring a facilitator for this, and there will be breakout groups so we’ll all have the opportunity to engage in discussion and learn more about this very important issue.

At a later date this fall, the School Board will hold a full hearing on the field surface issues for the Havens Playfield and the decision will be made by December when the “change order’ would have to get in to Webcor (the builder).  Now is the time to understand the issue.  Please come to the meeting so you can learn as well as voice your opinion.

The Havens and Beach Green Committees believe this is an important issue from an environmental perspective, involving big questions about whether or not the precautionary principle should apply.  Other school districts and cities across the country are debating these same issues, and some – most prominently, New York City and the Los Angeles Unified School District – have decided to stop installing more fields with crumb rubber infill.

Independent scientists are urging thorough evaluations before more synthetic fields with recycled tire crumb are installed.  For example, the editors of The Journal of Exposure Science and Epidemiology (from the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School ) argue that:

At the present time, we believe that the million dollar + expense to produce and install a synthetic field by communities and athletic facilities demands a much more thorough understanding of the environmental impacts, human exposure and health risk implications associated with all synthetic turf products available on the market.  This calls for a comprehensive evaluation of artificial turf by exposure scientists, and others in environmental science and environmental health sciences.

For your edification, below are a few of the health and environmental issues associated with rubber infill playing fields. We’re also attaching a letter Margaret sent to the School Board earlier this year.  It describes the issues and contains many links to independent studies.  If you only have time to read something shorter, there are links to some informational flyers on the issue at the very end of this message.


Jill Lindenbaum
Heather Clapp
Havens Green Committee

Margaret Ovenden
Beach Green Committee


What are the health and environmental issues?

TOXICITY: Crumb rubber from waste tires contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals with documented links to harmful health effects.  These include toluene (developmental toxicant), benzene (carcinogen, developmental and reproductive toxicant), styrene (neurotoxic), butadiene (carcinogen), butylated hydroxyanisole (carcinogen).  Tire rubber contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phthalates, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as zinc, lead, cadmium and other metals.

INHALATION, INGESTION: There is potential for all of these toxins to be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, and even swallowed by children who play on these fields.

MIGRATION: Rubber pellets can be tracked into the classroom, car and home, where exposure continues.

RUN-OFF: A number of the chemicals in crumb rubber are soluble in water and might leach from the fields to contaminate ground water and soil.

HEAT: These fields can get very hot when temperatures are high, posing a risk of heat stress or heat stroke.  Manufacturers readily admit that a synthetic field can run 10-30 degrees F hotter than a grass field.  Synthetic fields contribute to the “urban heat island”effect.

INFECTION: Abrasion injuries (“rug burn”) that occur on synthetic turf create “pathways” for bacterial infections, including MRSA.  Properly maintained synthetic fields require regular disinfection.

INJURIES: Synthetic turf may cause more sports injuries (e.g. “turf toe”) than grass.  The jury is out on this.  Professional sports players prefer grass.

DISPOSAL: Synthetic fields wear out and must be replaced every 8-15 years.  How to dispose of the crumb rubber is especially a problem, because it contains toxins and carcinogens.

Better alternatives:


–          PUSD successfully maintains Witter Baseball and Softball fields as natural grass fields with very little pesticide and herbicide use (and plans to use even less of these in the future).

–          Grass helps decrease CO2, provides a habitat for many living organisms, and cools the surrounding area.

–          Newer varieties of grass exist which require less water and mowing.

–          Soils in grass fields contain bacteria which decompose body fluids, algae and animal and bird droppings.


–          Organic infill made from crushed cork and coconut husks does not have the issues with chemicals that crumb rubber infill has.

–          Does not retain heat the way crumb rubber does; may have a cooling effect.

–          At the end of the lifecycle, the organic infill can be recycled.

What you can do:

ATTEND the September 24 “Green Forum on Synthetic Turf” sponsored by the PUSD Green Initiative (7:00-8:30 p.m., Piedmont Middle School Multipurpose Room, 740 Magnolia Ave) to gain a better understanding of what are the health and environmental issues that need to be considered in making a choice between synthetic turf and grass.

WRITE the Board of Education expressing your opinion.  Attend any Board meetings on the issue.  (Sometime before December, the Board will make a decision.) School Board e-mails: rgadbois@piedmont.k12.ca.us, rtolles@piedmont.k12.ca.us, jmonach@piedmont.k12.ca.us, mjones@piedmont.k12.ca.us, rraushenbush@piedmont.k12.ca.us

DISCUSS this issue with your friends, teammates, others you think would be concerned.

READ UP ON THE ISSUE: Some places to start:

SHORT FLYER: What to Know About Turf Fields? From Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center .


SHORT FLYER: Common Exposures: Synthetic Turf.  From Grassroots Environmental Education.  http://www.grassrootsinfo.org/syntheticturf.html

SHORT FLYER: “Grass playing fields vs. synthetic turf: How will your district decide?” New Jersey Education Association http://www.njea.org/pdfs/HS_GrassTurf_May08.pdf

Synthetic Turf: Health Debate Takes Root,” March 2008 Environmental Health Perspectives, published by the National Institute of Environmental Health  Sciences http://www.ehponline.org/members/2008/116-3/EHP116pa116PDF.PDF

“Artificial Turf: Exposures to Ground-Up Rubber Tires,” 2007 Environment and Human Health, Inc., www.ehhi.org/reports/turf/

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Whats better than dad cooking pancakes Sunday morning?

Posted by Len Gilbert on September 18, 2009

How about pancakes and PAINTS Chalk for Peace?


The 4th annual Beach Dads Pancake Breakfast is this Sunday, Sept 20th at Beach Elementary. The Beach Dads Club has some extra help this year from the Havens “Grill Gurus”. Come for the pancakes, stay for the chalk.

Sunday, September 20th 9:00-12:00
Beach Elementary School
Kids $4, Adults $6

It’s Sunday morning and Dad is making pancakes. Don’t miss it!

Posted in City News, School | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Portable Problems

Posted by Len Gilbert on August 25, 2009

I received this letter from PUSD superintendent Hubbard a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t write anything about it. I was too mad. The Piedmonter and the Post have covered the issue if you’d like more detail.Beach Portable

The short version: The school district has, yet again, made a Measure E related planning blunder, this one costing thousands of dollars to fix. I love adages, proverbs, saws, and maxims and “measure twice, cut once” is the one that comes to mind in this situation. Too bad the Measure E project managers don’t know that one.

As you read the letter below, keep in mind these points:

  • Who made the mistake on the gas line “abandonment”? Why was this not verified before the portable was moved and installed?
  • Who is paying to put an additional portable on the Beach blacktop because of this mistake?
  • Is the entity who made the error paying the costs? If not, why not?

Given that the replacement portable is already in place and all the traffic is now going to stop at the top, rather than the bottom of the hill, it seems now is the right time to put in a mid-block stop sign and cross walk. It’s overdue. The play field and the dog park both would benefit and it would slow traffic to the posted 25 mile an hour speed limit.


Here is superintendent Hubbard’s letter from August 7, 2009.


Dear Beach and Havens Families,

We are writing to provide an update on the plans to relocate Havens SchoolMates, and to provide assurance that the School District and City are working together to ensure that  SchoolMates for Havens and Beach students is in a safe and appropriate location and ready to operate its program starting August 26, the first day of the school year; and there will opportunity for parents, staff and neighbors to get information and provide input concerning the location options to accommodate all of the children in the SchoolMates program.

As you may know, the Havens SchoolMates building was scheduled to be relocated for the next two years to the far end of the Linda Beach Playfield, next to the Oakland Avenue bridge. The building will be used first by Havens SchoolMates, then Wildwood SchoolMates, during the time that the Havens and Wildwood Schools are relocated to Emeryville (the following year, when the Beach School is relocated to Emeryville, the Beach SchoolMates program will either relocate with or close to the Beach kindergarten classes). However, the School District confirmed that a 12″ high-pressure gas line below the site, previously identified as “abandoned” by PG&E, is in fact “active” and therefore makes the site unsuitable for the SchoolMates program.

In order to ensure that the SchoolMates program is ready for all students at the start of the school year, a SchoolMates building will be relocated, at least on a temporary basis, to the Beach blacktop. Although this change will reduce some of the play area immediately outside Beach School, we will work to best accommodate this change with minimal impact on our students and instructional programs.

The City and District are in the process of identifying options for a “permanent” (two-year) location for the SchoolMates building and will consider the options following the legally-required public notice and opportunity for comment by parents, staff and the neighbors. Many options have been explored and proven to be impractical or cost-prohibitive. Possible permanent locations still under consideration include, but are not limited to, leaving the SchoolMates
building on the Beach blacktop or moving the building to the City-owned tennis courts that are between the Beach School and the Beach field. The City and District will work together to reach a decision that is in the best interest of the community and makes the best use of community resources.

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we look forward to seeing you and your students on August 26th.


Constance Hubbard


Posted in City News, School | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Artificial Turf Buried at Havens?

Posted by Len Gilbert on February 9, 2009

If you look at the packet of materials for the school board meeting on February 11th, you’ll see on page 31 a “Use Agreement for Havens School Playfield”.  Buried in there (Witnesseth, item #2, “Specifications”) that it appears that artificial turf is a done deal and that no natural option is being considered.

Given the amount of concern the community has expressed over plastic grass at Coaches Field or Hampton Field, it seems that a little more information should be presented regarding the synthetic turf option up-front. At a minimum, this should be a separate agenda item with discussion. I think that a better idea is to remove #2 for more consideration of all field surface options at a later date.

Overall, the field and the rest of the use restrictions seem reasonable, but I believe the discussion of the surface should be more “above ground” with a natural option considered.


Posted in Recreation, School, Youth Sports | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Where to put the kids? What is fair?

Posted by Len Gilbert on November 24, 2008

The issue of Measure E interim student housing has become a bit of a hot topic around town. Various ideas for the location of temporary portables are being floated, including Witter Baseball field, Hampton Field, Coaches Field/Blair Park, Havens plus tennis courts (possibly throw in 801 Magnolia), and Beach Field. Each of these locations has a positive and negative side.

Measure E was positioned to retrofit our schools, not to build new ones. The Becker plan found a way to rebuild Havens using those funds and I think that’s a good thing. It is visionary to take what could have been functional, but uninspiring and figure out how to do something great for the community. However, the direct benefit, and therefore the bulk of the hardship, should be borne fairly and equitably.

So where should the portables be? What is fair and equitable?

Let’s look at Witter Baseball field. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m very pro-baseball and as a PBF board member, I know that losing Witter Baseball for 3-4 years will have a huge impact on the older players, but also ripple through community baseball and soccer programs of other age groups. However, when I take off my baseball hat and consider the issue as a Piedmont resident with school aged children, it seems to be not such a bad idea. It’s central, has plenty of room for portables, and keeps students (except Beach) generally close to their original schools. Witter baseball field adjoins Wildwood, PHS, and PMS and is about 4 blocks from Havens. (see this map to get an idea of the relative location of Havens, Wildwood, PMS, and PHS to the Baseball Field.) The main baseball diamond could be retained for practices as well as student use during the day. And while direct drop off via automobile is problematic, the central location means that walking to school is viable from most of Piedmont. Overall, this plan is better than many of the others. It keeps each school together in a centralized, walkable location.

Another option is Beach field, however this seems to be extremely weak proposal and not well thought out. This location is not easily walkable from most of Piedmont, so cars will be blocking Linda every morning and afternoon. Already there are traffic safety issues on Linda during school hours or soccer or baseball games. How would this be improved by adding to, possibly more than doubling, the student and teacher population there? Drop off and pick up would be a traffic nightmare. It also seems extremely unfair for Beach, which has the smallest amount of repair work needed, funds allocated, and improvements planned, to have to take the brunt of the interim housing effort for 3-4 years.

Hampton field is a decent choice, at least at first glance. It has four streets that come into a drop off point, has a large, contiguous field that could house portables, and also would allow for a small playground and basketball courts on site. Again, there are negatives. These include that the four approaches all meet at the same corner, so drop off would need some traffic coordination. Also, Hampton is very highly used by youth baseball, softball, soccer, as well as community tennis and basketball. If you think losing Witter baseball has a big impact on youth sports, imaging losing Hampton. The impact is much greater and directly affects a large pool of children aged 6-12.

Whew, what’s left? It seems there are still three or four options that won’t totally crater youth sports or put the burden on a school community who isn’t the primary beneficiary of the bulk of the Measure E construction. First is Witter Baseball Field, mentioned above. Aside from youth sports impact, it seems to offer the best location if the goal is to provide some continuity and community for displaced students. The field impact primarily affects 3 baseball teams. Second is Crocker Park. Yes, it’s not been considered, but it appears to be about as big as the Beach location and its temporary use would displace no youth sports or overburden one of the smaller elementary schools. Third is Coaches Field/Blair Park. The big negative here is traffic. However, the housing density is low compared to the other proposed locations, and if school walkers cross at Highland Avenue at the light, there is a separated sidewalk directly from Highland to Coaches field. The space to be considered should be all parking lot areas, the baseball field’s deep right field, and the corporation yard. Those three spaces alone allow for a huge area for portables, the baseball diamond as a field for school use, plus baseball, softball, and soccer could still use the field evenings and weekends. Parking for staff would be across Moraga in Blair park.

The final option is the one Drew mentioned in a previous post. “Flatten 801 Magnolia and put the PHS portables on that site and on Bonita from Magnolia to Vista. Once the Havens rebuild is complete, move the WW kids, and then the Beach kids, to the Havens portables.  Since there are (I think) about 40% fewer kids at WW and Beach than at Havens, there would be a need for fewer portables, so instead of portables taking up the whole play space, they could build the new field and all the kids would have a big field (and the brand new MPR) for PE, etc.”

None of these proposals are perfect. Each has enough drawbacks and problems to take it out of the running. Yet, we need to figure a way to get this work done quickly and safely, and most of all, fairly. I encourage you to participate in the discussion at two upcoming community meetings.

Dec 1, 7:30 pm, City Hall, Joint meeting of the City Council and Board of Education
Dec 10, 7:00 pm, City Hall, Regular meeting of the Board of Education


Feel free to comment on this post. The purpose of this blog is discussion and debate for the Piedmont community and you are encouraged to participate in the conversation.

Posted in City News, Parks, Recreation, School, Youth Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »