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WVN Newsletter #213: New appeal, turf work begins

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, Work has begun work to install artificial turf at the High School football field. A town press release predicts that, despite two
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 12, 2007
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Work has begun work to install artificial turf at the High School
      football field. A town press release predicts that, despite two
      environmental appeals and a lawsuit, the field will be ready as
      planned when school opens in the fall.

      The Wayland Boosters have run into continuing controversy
      since announcing plans last year to spend $300,000 in town
      land preservation funds and about $700,000 in private donations
      on the project. A suit opposed the use of taxpayer funds.
      Environmental questions prompted a citizens' appeal to the state
      Department of Environmental Protection that resulted in a
      revised plan. Citizens appealed the revised plan on June 1.

      The citizens who sued said they didn't oppose the project but
      questioned the use of taxpayer funds for a purpose not specified
      in the Community Preservation Act. The citizens who filed
      environmental appeals didn't oppose the project in theory, but
      asked for assurance that the town's water supply and adjacent
      federally protected land and river would be safe from toxic runoff
      of water.

      Town Administrator Fred Turkington's June 11 announcement of
      the start of construction referred indirectly to the citizens' action,
      noting that work on one part of the project won't begin until the
      latest appeal is resolved.

      "We are constructing the field in accordance with DEP orders
      and regulations which protect resource areas including nearby
      town wells and the Sudbury River," Turkington said.

      This and other recent developments raise questions about
      quality controls and concern for natural resources. Molly Upton
      reports.

      PROPER CONTROLS?

      The June 1 citizens' appeal asserts that the new drainage plans
      for the impervious field are inadequate for the expected volume
      of water and contaminants draining from the field may
      endanger nearby town wells and the Great Meadows National
      Wildlife Refuge.

      On May 21 Town Administrator Fred Turkington told the
      selectmen that construction was expected to start on May 29,. At
      that meeting Selectman Bill Whitney's questions revealed that
      there were no plans for a "clerk of the works" or qualified third
      party overseer to ensure that various specifications such as
      compaction are achieved. Turkington responded that Gale
      Associates, designer and Booster consultant, was the "contract
      administrator." Whitney responded that this would not provide
      independent quality control. Field construction will be overseen
      by Turkington and Joy Buhler, business manager of the school
      department.

      In addition, Gale has not demonstrated that its plans to divert the
      field runoff away from the Happy Hollow wells and toward the
      north have been evaluated by any other engineers, and it's
      unknown if the Gale plans may result in discharge into the
      abutting Sudbury River refuge.

      Water Commission Chairman Joel Goodmonson said he would
      ask Turkington to implement a peer review of the plans.
      Attendees at a Water Department meeting indicated they had
      heard Conservation Commissioner and professional engineer
      Andy Irwin decry some of the tests that Gale had presented.

      The Water Department's consultant, Tata & Howard, discussed
      with the Department plans to comply with DEP requirements to
      protect the wells from runoff from the High School parking lots.
      Carrying out these plans, which are independent of those for the
      field, but triggered by the field proposal, will cost about $100,000
      if the town does some of the construction.

      The Tata & Howard representatives said they had cursorily
      looked at the Gale plans and found it odd that both the "before"
      and "after" field construction plans dealt with the same volume of
      water. This is odd because the new field, unlike grass, would
      be impervious. The implication is that the volume of water will
      overwhelm a constructed swale (trough-like depressed area)
      planned to the north of the field and thus won't be filtered, and/or
      this amounts to more water near the ball field.

      In addition, the swale is designed to handle a one-half inch
      rainstorm, though Wayland recently has had at least one rain
      dumping four inches or more and in April there were six rainfalls
      exceeding a half-inch.

      The June 1 citizens' action appeals the DEP's earlier
      Superseding Order of Conditions. The new appeal came after
      the citizens reviewed the revised plans, including the swale.

      CONSTRUCTION CHANGE ORDER

      Turkington said the addition of a new drainage scheme for the
      field would be handled as a change order for the contractor
      already selected for the field construction. This raises the
      question whether a change of this size is proper under bidding
      rules. The Boosters have been telling residents and donors that
      the field should be in place in time for the fall athletic season. A
      change order would presumably avoid delay.

      Since taxpayers' Community Preservation Funds are involved,
      voters may logically want assurance that the town will ensure
      proper drainage via a peer review of the drainage plans as well
      as a clerk of the works to monitor construction and spending.

      After a December 2006 citizens' appeal to DEP of the
      Conservation Commission's approval of the field with
      conditions, the DEP requested changes in the field and parking
      lot drainage. The DEP received a plan for field drainage with the
      outfall pipe repositioned outside of the 400-foot radius of Zone I
      of the Happy Hollow well field. On May 17, the DEP issued the
      Superseding Order reinstating the Concom's conditions and
      adding six additional conditions.

      The Gale plans call for a swale north of the field to filter the
      outflow of water, which is very likely to contain bits of the
      pulverized truck tires from the field and resultant products from
      the rubber breakdown. (The list of 96 contaminants is too long to
      print here.) For those interested, the Swedish Chemicals Agency
      recommends not using rubber granules from waste tires in
      synthetic turf:
      http://www.kemi.se/upload/Trycksaker/Pdf/Faktablad/FbSynthetic
      Turf.pdf. Another site is:
      http://www.synturf.org/images/NBI_20Engelsk.pdf. The site
      http://www.synturf.org/rubbercrumbtoxic.html has lots of excerpts
      from scientific articles under the section "rubber crumb."

      Many of these contaminants are known to be harmful to aquatic
      life, and the federally protected Sudbury River and its wetlands
      are adjacent to the site of the field. The DEP Superseding Order
      notes that the Gale plans calling for the pipe and swale,
      although outside Zone I, are "within the 100 foot Buffer Zone
      associated with BVW (Bordering Vegetated Wetlands)."

      One of the looming questions is the proximity of the new swale
      to the wetlands as well its capacity. It is not clear that such a
      discharge as proposed by Gale is feasible given the letter
      submitted to the DEP by Elizabeth Herland of the Fish and
      Wildlife Service, who manages the Sudbury River refuge.

      In her letter of May 15, which may have crossed in the mail with
      the DEP permit, she states: "It will not be acceptable to have any
      runoff from this project affect refuge lands. The Service will not
      grant a drainage easement for this project…I respectfully
      request that the applicant provide documentation depicting the
      extent of flow from the drainage outfall location, including during
      peak rainfall events. This should include the calculations of how
      the drainage will be affected when the Sudbury River is at flood
      stage, which generally occurs once or twice a year. This
      calculation of flow should be provided on a map which indicates
      the location of the refuge boundary. It would be preferable for the
      applicant to design a retention system on the high school
      property so that concerns about drainage and flooding can be
      eliminated.In particular, a complete pollution elimination system
      should be required if questions in the appeal cannot be
      satisfactorily answered."

      The citizens' appeal states: "We are seeking appropriate
      modifications to the Project which will ensure that the quality of
      the water leaving the Project (either surface or subsurface flow)
      does not degrade the source waters of the Happy Hollow wells
      and the wetlands bordering the Sudbury River.

      "We respectfully request that the Department revisit our concerns
      regarding potential for toxic tire leachates to degrade vital
      drinking water aquifer sources and cause environmental
      degradation to fish and aquatic species in the receiving
      wetlands and that possible remedies presented by us in our
      original Appeal be incorporated in a Final Order."

      The challenge of where to put field runoff and its leachates -- not
      too close to the wells, and not too close to the Great Meadows --
      serves to highlight site issues that the High School Building
      Committee should be examining.

      Though artificial turf is widely used, the specific technology
      planned for Wayland is less than a decade old, and there is
      disagreement in some other Massachusetts communities over
      possible environmental hazards and also the legality of using
      Community Preservation funds. Some are pondering a
      regulation that would prohibit construction of artificial turf fields in
      Zone II. The High School project, barely outside of Zone I, is in
      Zone II. Zones I and II are designations of areas that require
      protection because they contribute water to the well fields.

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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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