Watch CBS News

Ridgewood Village Council votes to advance turf field plans

Ridgewood Village Council votes to advance turf field plans
Ridgewood Village Council votes to advance turf field plans 02:23

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- MetLife stadium is not the only spot in New Jersey with a turf debate; taxpayers in Ridgewood packed a Village Council vote Wednesday night on plans to build a turf field on a historic property.

CBS New York's investigative reporter Tim McNicholas found several other towns where taxpayers are fighting turf plans.

A superstar quarterback might seem an unusual topic at a Ridgewood Village Council meeting, but just a few minutes into the public comments, the name Aaron Rodgers came up.

"Aaron Rodgers' torn Achilles on Monday night highlights how much NFL players dislike turf," Ridgewood resident David Refkin said.

"And the thing that I found so interesting was what the executive of the NFLPA had to say about this," Ridgewood resident Nancy Brennan Hill said.

"There will also be repeated mentions of injuries on turf, such as the recent injury suffered by Aaron Rodgers," another resident said.

The council gathered to vote on whether to advance a plan to build an artificial turf field alongside a 19th century home listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

But as CBS New York reported in August, some taxpayers instead want a smaller grass field built on the unused space.

One of their concerns? Whether the rubber crumbs in artificial turf can create health hazards when ingested due to chemicals called PFAs.

"Turf is not only toxic, but it's dangerous," Ridgewood resident Cynthia O'Keefe said.

"We can't maintain the grass fields we have. That is why we need a turf field," Ridgewood Mayor Paul Vagianos said.

CBS New York has learned of similar debates in Westfield and in Scotch Plains, where a doctor with Mount Sinai's Children's Environmental Health Center wrote a letter to the town council discouraging a turf plan due to "uncertainties surrounding the safety ... and the potential for dangerous heat and chemical exposures."

The United States Environmental Protection Agency says studies have not shown an elevated health risk, but the studies have been limited.

Supporters of the plan who called into the meeting say Ridgewood needs more fields and they need to be better maintained.

"More programs, more participants equals more need for fields," Ridgewood resident Robert Lynch said.

"Thousands and thousands of Ridgewood children would benefit from a sports complex like the Schedler proposal," Ridgewood resident Alex Finston said.

The council voted to advance the plan and it will now head to the state's Historic Preservation Office for consideration. The village manager says there still could be changes to the plan based on how the state responds.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.