I bet you thought this story was over last November! But you were wrong. Some 30 stalwart protesters are still engaged in a years-long battle over the installation of artificial turf on the soccer fields in Golden Gate Park, over near the Beach Chalet. These same fields were the subject of two separate propositions on the November ballot, and have been the focus of protesters' efforts with the Rec & Parks Department going back years now, but despite getting the green light from a majority of voters, and despite years of study disproving any adverse environmental impacts, protesters persist in trying to stall the project.
As the Examiner reports, the topic of the long-term impacts of artificial turf which contains about 70 percent rubber from recycled tires has come up elsewhere in the country, including L.A. and New York, however San Francisco's been debating and studying this same project for seven years now, since 2008. But Patrick Hannon of the City Fields Foundation a non-profit started nine years ago to work with Rec & Parks to renovate the city's existing playing fields and add more to meet growing demand insists that the impacts of the turf have been "thoroughly vetted and studied by officials" and "would not create a significant hazard to the public or the environment."
Following some brouhaha over soccer field reservations at Mission Playground last summer, voters approved Prop I (Team Turf) and rejected Prop H (Team Grass), essentially giving a double stamp of approval and letting construction on the fields begin immediately. And, immediately, several stalwarts continued their protests. As of this week, they are still saying "There's an opportunity to get the toxic tire waste out of this project."
It should be noted that there has been no significant protest around the 12 other artificial turf fields that have been installed at Mission Playground, Crocker Amazon, South Sunset and Silver Terrace playgrounds, and elsewhere. As one neighbor tells the Ex, "[The protesters] only seem to have found that turf is toxic when it's close to the Pacific Ocean."
The turf fields have been very popular with soccer players around town, many of whom stayed away when the city's playing fields were rutted and covered in dead grass.
The addition of lights and turf on the Beach Chalet fields will provide nearly 10,000 more hours of play per year for SF's soccer enthusiasts. Construction is scheduled to be completed by November 2015.
Related: SF Native Who Fought For Soccer Field Takes Us On A Gentrification Tour Of The Mission
Several Artificial Turf Foes Stage Sit-In As Construction Continues On Beach Chalet Soccer Fields
Rec & Parks Dig In Early On Soccer Field Renovations