Pesticide use spurs soccer delay

Concerns about spraying fields result in postponement

Youth soccer games that were to be held Saturday at the Riverview Sports Complex will be postponed for a week in response to parents’ fears about children playing on fields treated the day before with synthetic pesticides.

Cathy Metz, the city’s director of parks and recreation, believes the field would have been safe, but wanted to be responsive to a “few parents” who raised concerns.

Don Lewis, father of a 7-year-old son, wrote in a letter to the city “that there will not be 24 hours between the time of application and the game times.”

Lewis added that the “chemical smell remains for days and is very, very concerning. Please don’t make me have to choose between my son and his love for soccer and my feelings about chemical exposure! Spray after the games are over!”

To further accommodate those worried about pesticides, a city committee is expected to decide this week on a consultant to advise the city on a program for organically treating city parks.

Metz believes the “proposed ordinance limiting the use of pesticides has increased community awareness. The parks, including Riverview Sports Complex, have been sprayed in the spring and fall annually for well over a decade without incident.”

She said the city contractor uses a “weed abatement product that has been tested and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Cece Sallee, co-owner of Scott’s Pro-Lawn, the city contractor, said the pesticides used are “less toxic than aspirin or caffeine.” A person would have to lick recently treated lawn to be affected, she said.

Scott’s Pro-Lawn has treated property since 1993.

“We’ve never had an incident of any kind,” said Sallee, who lamented that people were becoming so fearful.

Opponents have associated synthetic pesticides with autism and childhood cancer.

Children at Riverview Elementary School were to be kept indoors during the spraying on Friday morning, but now that the games have been rescheduled, the fields will be sprayed Saturday morning.

Metz said no games for elementary-age soccer players are being canceled, just put off for a week to Oct. 20. Games at other city parks will go on as normal.

The city’s fall youth soccer season at Riverview will simply end a week later on Oct. 27.

Metz said she has gotten one email from a parent who complained that family plans were being inconvenienced because of the rescheduling.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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