Editor's Note: The vote count is corrected to reflect an accurate count. Additionally, Elizabeth Carr is not a district school nurse and that has been taken out of her attribution.
GLEN ROCK, NJ – The Borough Council has chosen to use non-organic field treatments for lower Faber Field after an attempt to use organic treatments left the field in poor condition.
The Council voted 4-2 to give the field a “shock” treatment with chemicals to revive the grass and therefore create safer playing conditions as soon as possible. Council members Mike O’Hagan, Bill Leonard, Mary Barchetto and Council President Kristine Morieko affirmed the treatment, while councilwomen Amy Martin and Arati Kreibich voted against the proposition.
“We can try [to maintain the field organically], but we may get the same result next year,” Mayor Bruce Packer said at the Council’s work session on April 10 before the vote. As mayor, Packer votes in matters only to break a tie.
The field’s shoddy condition may cause injuries to athletes, and this is after the borough spent $325,000 on new sod and irrigation, O’Hagan said.
“We don’t have the training, time nor the staff to maintain organic fields with the loving care it needs,” Morieko said.
“It’s very surprising to me to hear this now,” Martin said.
The Glen Rock Board of Education has gone to organic maintenance on its fields, but Elizabeth Carr, a former Board of Education trustee, said, “The weeds on organic fields are very hard to control. It’s very expensive.”
“But no one can tell us why organic was a disaster,” Martin insisted.
O’Hagan said the companies that sell the products do not give a guarantee. They only explain how the fields need to be maintained.
“I am really disheartened,” Martin said. “I understand not wanting the kids to get hurt, my daughter plays there. But the Board of Education set a precedent that organic can work.”
Carr said the Board of Education is just at three years, the benchmark for the point at which organic treatments begin to take hold and make a difference. “That’s how long it takes to work,” she told the Council.
Martin and Councilwoman Arati Kreibich were both in favor of sticking to the organic treatment.
“Pesticides are so, so, so toxic,” Martin said.
Councilman Bill Leonard said he was “sympathetic” to staying with the organic treatment and that the field “looked great when we started,” but said the field condition is now “embarrassing.”
O’Hagan said the only way to save it for the current season is to “shock” the field with a chemical treatment. “I want to save the investment,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of the taxpayer’s money up there. Let’s try to save it now and then work on a more comprehensive plan.”
Morieko said her report from Recreation Director Katie Frey said that without the proper grass, the field is dangerous. There is “a greater danger of knee injuries and concussions,” Morieko said, reading from Frey’s report.
“It’s irresponsible of us not to get it back to playing condition,” O’Hagan said.