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WHAT IS FULL ABOUT FARLEY: The Brunswick Planning Board has approved the College’s outline plan for the proposed Farley Field renovations. Neighbors continue to raise concerns about the environmental impacts of the project.

Editor’s Note October 14, 2022 at 10:05 a.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly characterized Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s blocking of the construction of new artificial turf fields in Boston’s public parks as a prohibition. While a statement in a rebuilding plan read, “Mayor Wu has directed that no new artificial turf pitches be installed in the City of Boston,” a city spokesperson noted that “there is no There is no ban on installing sod in the city of Boston.

On Tuesday, the Brunswick Planning Board approved the College’s draft plan for the renovation of the Pickard Field complex, despite continued concerns expressed by community members about the environmental impacts of the renovations and potential noise and light pollution. .

In public comments Tuesday, several neighbors expressed disapproval of the transition to sod fields, noting that the City of Boston recently blocked the construction of new sod fields in parks due to PFAS concerns. PFAS compounds, known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down naturally, have been identified in grass playgrounds nationwide.

Senior Vice President of Finance and Development and Treasurer Matt Orlando addressed those concerns in his opening remarks, noting that the College has yet to choose a turf manufacturer.

“We are aware of the concerns around artificial turf and PFAS and are working with our peers and suppliers to understand product options: their labeling, composition and sourcing,” Orlando said. “Information on the playing surface chosen as a result of this research will be included in our final plan submission.”

Allison Cooper, associate professor of Romance languages ​​and literatures and film studies, encouraged the College and the planning board to exercise caution in this process.

“I really hope that you … be extremely careful in the future with any plans involving PFAS, because there’s just an overwhelming level of evidence emerging right now that says this is a very bad decision,” he said. said Cooper. “I think the College will come to regret it in five to ten years when many of our students, who come from places like Boston, are cautious and no longer want to play on PFAS-infested fields. So it’s worth taking the time, slowing down the process, asking for all the relevant research, not just the research that has been done by the synthetic turf manufacturers.

Other neighbors have raised concerns about tree removal required for field reconfiguration as well as potential adverse effects on the Mare Brook watershed. Associate Professor of Biology Vladimir Douhovnikoff spoke about the city’s current efforts to repair the damage done to Mare Brook.

“We’re going to kind of throw this new strain at Mare Brook, which adds another source of PFAS, when they try to reverse this PFAS problem in another way,” Douhovnikoff said. “It seems to move the thing in the wrong direction. That’s not to say there aren’t control options. I just hope you ask and push for a plan on how to minimize these stream contributions.

Douhovnikoff also noted that the College’s plans to flip the baseball and softball fields and move the new softball field away from Farley Field House pushes the fields further into the current tree line, requiring the removal of several acres. of trees.

At the town hall hosted by the College on September 27, Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan confirmed that the repurposing of these two fields is to prepare for the possible future expansion of the field house.

“Part of that gives us flexibility for the future – potentially while [Orlando] and i’m here or after [Orlando] and I’m off – if the Farley Field House expansion ever comes to fruition,” Ryan said. “Swapping the location of the house fields allows for space outside of Farley.”

Another major point of contention at the planning committee meeting was the potential noise and light pollution given the installation of new sound systems and streetlights on the fields. Residents expressed particular apprehension about music and announcements playing late at night and disrupting the sleep of young children.

Alison Harris, a member of the planning board, proposed creating a formal agreement between the College and the scorers that would dictate the hours of field use. Sebago Technics chief operating officer Kylie Mason said that was unlikely.

“Certainly I think the College is sensitive to feedback from neighbors, but I don’t know if they’re interested in formalizing any agreements,” Mason said. “I think we found it would be very restrictive. I think that would be difficult to enforce, and it would limit the potential of the fields.

Tom Kelly, another neighbor of Farley, expressed his dissatisfaction with the College’s reluctance to enter into a formal agreement.

“I want you to consider what Bowdoin can offer the city and neighbors that is truly definitive and that puts some teeth into some reasonable approaches to sound and lighting regulation to make the new design workable for neighborhoods. “, said Kelly. . “I think it is not unrealistic to require [the Planning Board’s] part which [the College] present something very precise and specific that offers real protections to neighbors.

The planning board voted unanimously to approve the sketch plan without changes or conditions. The Board will schedule a site visit with the College and Sebago Technics, and the final plan will be submitted for review in the coming weeks.