by eila in Accessibility, Environment and Open Space, Neighborhoods and Squares, Public Health & Safety, Schools and Youth
Posted on July 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm
Last Modified on August 25, 2010 at 9:03 pm
Of the 39 Somerville Parks and Playgrounds listed on the city website, Glen Park, at the corner of Glen and Oliver Streets in East Somerville, has the finest integrated play equipment in Somerville.
The Community Access & Inclusion Project surveyed this area one steamy August day last year. Only one family was enjoying this lovely Park.
The surrounding seating and family area is also fabulously designed. Below, we see a table that allows for accessible use, plus a relatively smooth and level transfer route leading from the playground to the soccer/baseball field.
This area is so well-designed for integrated play that we don’t even find that offensive phrase “handicapped accessible” in the city’s published description of Glen Park.
(“handicapped accessible” is code for: “Segregated Pathway or Entrance Provided.”).
Above and below, we see 3 views showing how the play area was designed to include clear ground space so that a wheelchair-driving child can maneuver around independently; and showing that over 50% of the distinctive play features include entry points, seats and other elements to allow for easy reach, transfer and access. Way to Go, Designers!
I haven’t yet found the name of the Designers for Glen Park’s playground.
Probably not the same people who thought out the affiliated Glen Park Community Gardens.
Below, we see that the Community Gardens were unfortunately NOT blocked out to include continuous accessible pathways:
The City, which holds many public hearings and meetings here, didn’t take the time and consideration to mitigate streetscape access from parking lot and sidewalks to the Capuano School and Glen Park. Here is the inaccessible crossing from the parking lot to the school:
That curbcut on the schoolside has an 11.5% running slope. The curbcuts aren’t located within the crosswalk.
Above: Intersection of Glen and Oliver Streets. This is Joe’s Streetscape and Crosswalk work. The curbcuts don’t even match up- and the crosswalk doesn’t even connect them!
The City of Somerville includes this as a “safe route to school.” The routes around here aren’t safe or accessible by any transportation, pedestrian or building code standards! How much did- and will- these mistakes cost us all in time, resources and funds?
This area has many complicated environmental and safety issues.
ENVIRONMENTAL – Tetrachloroethylene
Somerville’s historic legacy, from railroad, farming and industrial evolution, includes environmental contamination.
An environmental site investigation of nearby 50 Tufts Street was initiated in 2004, and is currently ongoing. 50 Tufts Street, which was operated for many years as a laundry and dry cleaning supply warehouse, was found to contain high levels of tetrachloroethylene, a manufactured chemical used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing. (Tetrachloroethylene is also called PERC and also called PCE.) A primary business activity at this site was the packaging of bulk tetrachloroethylene into smaller containers, such as 55-gallon drums, for transport for use as a dry cleaning solvent or other uses. A past owner, Uni-First, accepted responsibility for environmental assessment and cleanup.
In March 2007, a resident in the city of Somerville, Massachusetts, was concerned about indoor air contamination from vapor intrusion of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in her home associated with the nearby 50 Tufts Street site. That person contacted the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Environmental Health (MDPH/BEH). What a Smart Resident.
The resultant January, 2009 report states (p.6): “Currently, both soil on the 50 Tufts Street site and groundwater in the vicinity of the site are known to be contaminated with tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and other chlorinated chemicals. During the site investigation process, a plume of PCE was discovered in groundwater moving away from the site to the east-northeast. The extent of the contaminated groundwater has been estimated based on sampling and analysis results in monitoring wells and is reported in the Comprehensive Site Investigation (CSI) for the site [GEI 2008]. Figure 1 is a map showing the location of the site, the neighborhood under discussion, and a school in the area, the Capuano School. “
For more information on the safety and health risks associated with PCE, see: Toxicological Profile for Tetrachloroethylene. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
In 2010, Somerville received a $200,000 EPA Brownfields Assessment grant. These community-wide hazardous substances grant funds will be used to conduct Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments in the East Somerville and Union Square areas. Grant funds also will be used to update the city’s database and support community outreach activities.
(Cautionary Tale: in April 2005, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued a $70,000 grant to City of Somerville as part of Urban Brownfields Site Assessment Program towards the demolition of the Public Safety Building and remediation of the site. Yet, the PSB has still not been demolished and is in active use. )
MAYOR JOE’S ASTROTURF MEANS ADDED CONTAMINANTS & ADDED COSTS
As Representative Denise Provost has so elegantly stated:
The first task of environmental stewardship for our city government is damage control – holding the line on any further deterioration of Somerville’s environmental assets…”
Yet, in June 2008, Joe spent over $680,000 to lay down a new Astroturf field at Glen Park. The buzz is that Joe wanted to lure the Kraft group to build a soccer field down the road.
Astroturf is a synthetic turf material which has a maximum lifespan of 10 years. In January 2008, a deteriorating Astroturf field in Newark, NJ was categorized as a Public Health Hazard, due to elevated lead concentrations in surface dust. The City had to close that field to residents until the synthetic field surface was removed. (That field surface was called AstroTurf XL and was approximately ten years old.)
More recently, Dioxin contaminants (DLCs) were found on residential property along a Michigan floodplain based on 48 flood-deposit sediment samples from Astroturf mats secured along the route. The study concluded that “people living in that residential area breathed, touched, and accidentally ate DLCs in soil and dust for a year or longer, and this may have harmed their health.” (page 16 of 32)
There is, as yet, no clear conclusions regarding the potential heavy metals exposure rates and health outcomes for children who have regular contact with Astroturf. Children and residents are exposed through dermal contact, ingestion, soil erosion and leaching.
“It is predicted that chemicals leaching from synthetic turf materials occurs slowly, and as a result the environmental harms may take place over many years.” (Source: T. Kallqvist, Norwegian Institute for Water Research(NIVA), Environmental Risk Assessment of Artificial Turf Systems, December 2005, p. 5 cited by KEM, Swedish Chemicals Agency, Facts: Synthetic Turf, April 2007.)
If the Astroturf contains rubber crumb, it will leach the following compounds into groundwater: Benzothiazole (a skin and eye irritant), Butylated hydroxyanisole (a “recognized carcinogen, suspected endocrine toxicant, gastrointestinal toxicant, immune toxicant, neurotoxicant, skin and sense-organ toxicant”),n-hexadecane (a severe irritant), and & 4-(t-octyl) phenol (“corrosive and destructive to mucous membranes”)” (Source: The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Examination of Crumb Rubber Produced from Recycled Tires, August 2007; Environment & Human Health, Inc., Artificial Turf, Exposures to Ground-Up Rubber Tires, 2007.)T
The pigment in these Polyethylene fibers is often lead chromate. (Source: Megan Carter-Thomas. “Evaluating Heavy Metals in Artificial Turf Fields: Leaching Mechanisms and Exposure Pathways,” Wellesley College, 2008. )
Artificial turf has a life span of 8 to 10 years. The costs of installing and maintaining artificial turf must include the costs of disposal. A best scenario 10-year life-span cost comparison shapes up like this:
Artificial Turf: $86,000
Natural Grass: $68,000
(Source: Fact Sheet- Artificial/Synthetic Turf )
SAFETY IS AN ONGOING PUBLIC CONCERN
The Somerville News crime reports keeps us informed regarding MS-13 activity in the area. Some recent reports regarding crime activity around Glen Park are dated June 23, May 18, May 12, April 19, and April 6.
THIS POST IS PART OF AN ONGOING SERIES on Somerville Parks & Recreation Spaces. Next up: Conway Park.