Stonington may move from pesticides to organics on athletic fields

By Joe Wojtas
The New London Day 6/24/2015

Stonington — First Selectman George Crouse said Wednesday that the town will test the use of organic materials on one its athletic fields this fall, and if the pilot project is successful it will begin the conversion from pesticides and other chemicals.

Crouse made the comment to the Board of Selectmen after meeting with Frances Hoffman, the past president of Clean Up Sound and Harbors, the local group that has promoted the use of organic materials on lawns to improve water quality.

In recent weeks, town and school officials have been answering questions about the use of pesticides on their athletic fields after  residents complained that the high school, where pesticides are used on the fields, houses a preschool program where children have an outdoor play area in the school commons.

In addition, the recreation department’s summer program for children and the adjacent playground are in close proximity to the fields.

Two weeks ago, Superintendent of Schools Van Riley reported to the school board that the system is in compliance with all state requirements related to pesticide use on all the athletic fields at the high school.

The town oversees all but the baseball and artificial turf field, which are the school system’s responsibility.

On Wednesday night, selectmen talked with Ed Ball, an East Lyme town employee who oversees that community’s athletic fields, and who has been working with officials here on the fields.

He discussed the record-keeping related to pesticides and other chemicals.

Public Works Director Barbara McKrell said the town has now implemented a protocol that logs each use of a chemical, how much was used, where and when it was applied, the license number of the applicator and other details, something she said a previous contractor had not done the past two years.

Selectman Rob Simmons said parents want information about the chemicals used on the fields and have a right to that information.

Twitter: @joewojtas