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Letter to the Editor: “Upgrades” to Pickard Field

October 21, 2022

This piece represents the opinion of the author .

To the editors,

The proposals for the redevelopment of Bowdoin’s Pickard Field complex sent to members of Friends of the College a week or so ago are both surprising and troubling: surprising because I am coming to think of Bowdoin as an environmentally-conscious institution and troubling because the proposals set the College back several steps in the community trust earned from solar and geo-thermal installations.

The Earth’s environmental crisis demands that every decision made should benefit the climate over any other consideration. What is the appeal of these changes to the athletic fields?

Artificial turf is, to my understanding, a mixture of chemical ingredients that, once substituted for grass, requires no mowing, watering or feeding. Therefore, once installed, the college would save financially on equipment and college staff time. But my guess is that the cost of purchase and installation would cancel out those savings for several years, so cost is not likely the primary rationale.

I don’t know how long the “turf” lasts, but I did notice that there were major repairs and replacement to the field hockey/lacrosse “field” after only a year or so. The upside of artificial turf, I believe, is that it’s very smooth so that balls and athletes travel easily on it, but I’ve heard from athletes that it’s very uncomfortable to fall or slide on.

What about “Daylight Lamps” to light evening games during standard time?  I think we’ve all heard that they confuse local and migrating birds, often repelling them from the area and adding to local habitat loss. The confusion element alone is cause for complaint. How arrogant we are!

I remain puzzled about what the driving force for these changes might be. What comes to mind is the power of athletics to draw alumni dollars. Lining up with competing colleges also keeps athletic departments on their toes. Neither is an approach to be proud about.

Perhaps I’m wrong on all counts. I hope so. But I remind the College to be an environmental leader with every choice it makes. That’s the surest, most sustainable way of drawing dollars from alumni who care first about protecting our planet from further harm.

Yours Sincerely,

Rosalie Paul


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One comment:

  1. Nat Deacon says:

    The author claims the field and lights will harm the environment but provides no credible evidence to support this claim. In fact, her description of artificial turf as not requiring mowing, watering, or feeding would seem to suggest the opposite. She asserts the lights will disturb migratory patterns for birds, but she provides no source for this assertion beyond the Trumpian “I think we’ve all heard.” The new field may have negative environmental implications worth considering, but this letter does nothing to help in this exploration.

    Further, the proposition that “The Earth’s environmental crisis demands that every decision made should benefit the climate over any other consideration” is absurd. Taken to its logical conclusion, it would imply we should kill or sterilize large segments of the population to reduce current and future GHG emissions. Thanos might find such a course of action appealing, but I suspect most of us would not!

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