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Organic Pesticides Studied for Athletic Fields

Verona officials research effectiveness of safe chemicals on township recreation facilities.


The township of Verona is studying the effectiveness of organic pesticides on township athletic fields after athletes and their families became alarmed about the use of possibly unsafe chemicals on the fields.

Verona Township Manager Joe Martin told council members Monday night he is not through studying the use of organic pesticides on township athletic fields.

Martin said he recently visited a property treated by one potential contractor and called the results “disappointing.”

“The weeds were substantial in location and in volume,” he said.

In May, 10-year-old Nina Machnowski of South Prospect Street addressed the council expressing her concerns about the town’s use of pesticides and fertilizers applied to township athletic fields.

Machnowski told the council at that time she and her soccer teammates had practice on Linn Drive only a few hours after the field was treated with pesticides.

“There were a few pesticide warning flags on the field, but my mom didn't see them until she picked me up after practice,” she said. “None of the parents were notified before or after the pesticide application.”

Machnowski and her parents expressed concern inorganic chemicals have been known to “kill fish on contact and are absorbed through the skin.”

Several council members, who also have children playing on Verona's athletic fields, said at the time they were taking her request very seriously.

At the July 16 meeting, a group of parents and children urged the Verona Township Council to support the township's potential switch from pesticide lawn care to all-organic turf care for Veteran’s Field

That night, a representative addressed the council concerning the Safe Playing Field Act. He said organic turf care is completely safe to children and leads to healthier, thicker grass, which grows deep roots and, as a result, is more resilient to heavy use and less prone to insect problems. 

Towns and boards of education all over the country are switching to safer organic lawn care and the price has dropped dramatically, allowing more cost-effective options than ever. 

At the time, the council did not put a timetable on when a decision could be made or when any plan would be put into effect. 

 “We may want to pilot test the organic treatments on one field… It’s not the slam dunk that we may have thought from the presentation (given at the July 16 meeting).”

He added he and other township officials plan to visit another field treated by the same company soon in hopes of seeing better results.

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