Famous Last Words

This is the last column I will write on this topic. 


  (editrix: Fields for Kids has announced an effort to raise $465,000 by November 1. we remind you this is an editorial opinion, though he swears up and down this is his last.)


  It is no crime to be dumb. But In the case of Fields for Kids, it’s almost charming that so many like-minded people have found something to do together.


Let’s go back a couple of years to when we got stuck with rubber crumb black stain number 1:


The people who think they know better than us told us all that there is no danger to our kids, our fields, our water or anything else. But that wasn’t true. It wasn’t true then, and we KNOW it’s not true now.


According to the EHHI the dangerous compounds from the rubber fields do, in fact, sink into the ground and the ground water. And all you have to do is take a walk around Larchmont to see that the crumbs have found their way onto our beaches and into the Sound.


It was about then that the city municipalities of New York and Los Angeles BOTH had such doubts about the health risks to kids using these fields that they pulled all the crumb fields…ALL of them, out of their cities. Perhaps the first time ever New York and L.A. agreed on anything except that Yom Kippur should be a national holiday. I think the Los Angeles spokesperson said something like “no savings or benefits in the world are worth the health risk to our kids.”


We live in an area where if you are caught giving your kids tuna packed in oil instead of spring water, you are subject to public humiliation, and if you don’t pick up after your dog you can be flogged, yet the carcinogens from a rubber crumb field in our ground, in our water, in our ocean and possibly in our children, that’s OK. Why? Because Fields for Kids has a lot of money and they tell us its okay.


BUT THERE IS NO NEED TO WORRY. Why? Because in the big ad campaign that Fields for Kids is running for their new field initiative they announce NO CRUMB RUBBER, so everything is alright and safe, no? “Don’t worry, ignore the man behind the curtain.”  We can trust them, when have they ever been wrong?


A comment to my previous article pointed out that the Town and Village have  never asked for nor voted for either field, even though we will end up paying for both for a long, long time. In fact in the closest thing we could have to voting on this issue, the people of this area said “no.” You can say it was a close vote all you want, but there is no doubt whatsoever it was a NO.


And there is no doubt that the efforts to establish both fields were aimed at BUYING their way around the political system. Fields for Kids is pure and simply, a “lets ensure the wealthy get their way” organization. If you give money to Fields for Kids, you are subsidizing a wealthy-gets-their-way, side-step-fair-government-where-every-one-has-a-voice procedure. If I were a donor I’d have a problem looking in at myself in the mirror. But that could also be because I have a fat face.


Finally, the bigger issue regarding the current Fields for Kids campaign is the misguided and utterly selfish use of their fundraising. There are kids at Mamaroneck High School who go to bed hungry, who wear secondhand clothes, and get little educational support. Where is the campaign for them? In fact, the Fields for Kids campaign is now competing with the Hispanic Resource Center’s fall fundraising drive, an organization that is overburdened and desperate for funds. I also found out recently that when the County granted the Village a portion of the funds for Flint Park, there were strings attached: a requirement that the Village spend a certain amount on resources for lower income families. But when the money is donated privately, there is no such quid pro quo. Just another way that the haves screw the have-nots.


If these fields are so great, and so problem free, and we are going to have to pay for them for next eon or two, than how come we are not given the chance to vote straight out if we want them? Why does a vote scare Fields for Kids so much? My guess is that it’s because a vote represents what Field for Kids wants least: a fair decision, made by everyone, that benefits everyone equally.


Where are the people who are supposed to stand up for what’s right? Where is the Mayor? Where is the Mamaroneck Town Board, especially my friend and respected board member Dave Fishman, who does so much to help families in our community? Where is the principal of the High School, the football coaches, our celebrity baseball coach who is supposed to teach their players about fair play and doing the right thing? Where are the science teachers, or those who teach the fundamentals of our government, and all those who are supposed to be teaching our kids what is right?


And most important where are we? You, me, and everyone else who doesn’t have $20,000 to give to change the outcome of a public issue that should be decided publicly?


  1. I don’t know what all of the fuss is about. Crumb rubber fields are great.
    I have done everything on crumb rubber fields.
    I have played soccer on crumb rubber fields.
    I’ve slept on crumb rubber fields.
    I’ve had a picnic on crumb rubber fields.
    Stop whining.


    Nadya Suleman
    aka Octomom

  2. It’s hard to know if it’s worth even responding to this “editorial opinion” rant. But I just can’t resist.

    First of all, Jon Sawyer insults our community by implying that we can’t support more than one worthy cause at a time.

    Secondly, I’d like Mr. Sawyer to show me where are all those rubber crumbs on our beaches and in the Sound? What is he talking about?!

    And New York City and Los Angeles have not “pulled all the crumb fields”. Where does Mr. Sawyer get his information? In fact, our kids play games all the time on crumb rubber fields at Randall’s Island, Manhattan and Brooklyn as well as at other schools and towns in Westchester.

    EHHI is one organization that is convinced that crumb rubber is bad and is effective at spreading scary sounding claims to the public, and many people are ready to believe what they hear without looking further. No matter that several well designed studies by the NY Department of Health and the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, among others, have concluded that the fields are safe for the environment and for the kids who use them.

    Our public officials are supporting the efforts of Fields for Kids to build this field because they have educated themselves about the benefits and safety of synthetic turf fields.

    Why is Mr. Sawyer so hell bent on convincing people not to support this community effort to build this much needed field? Could it be that he is taking out his anger because he and his touch football friends were not given permission to use the Village or Town fields? – see his Feb 23,2008 rant in the Larchmont Loop: I quote – “History: We have a little local touch football game every Sunday morning, but someone, somewhere in this stinking oppressive government doesn’t like our game and wants us off the fields. Why?” Well… maybe they were trying to protect our community’s overused and fragile natural grass fields so they wouldn’t turn into mud bowls! Hmmmn – perhaps a turf field isn’t such a bad idea?

  3. People continue to be misinformed about the facts concerning turf fields and here’s an attempt to change that:
    1. The EHHI study from two years ago was sponsored by an environmental group trying to find something wrong with turf; their procedures did NOT replicate real life circumstances; and licensed and state environmental agencies have dismissed the results of the EHHI study. It is correct that the Memorial Field project will NOT be using recycled crumb rubber.
    2. True, the bond vote was close, but the bond included much more than just turf fields. So much so that a group opposing the bond called themselves taxedenuf.org. Not fieldsenuf.org. The mandate coming out of the bond defeat was “don’t tax us too much.” Not “don’t turf Memorial.” Many voters who voted no did so because they felt the financial burden was too high in this down economy, not because they are against synthetic fields. The Memorial Field project is a downscaled and moderate plan addressing only one field, at a manageable cost. The fact that private funds are being generously contributed so that taxpayers don’t bear the cost is something that many people in our community are applauding—even those who voted no. This is no different than using the PTA, Mamaroneck Schools Foundation or booster clubs to raise money for many of our district’s other valued projects.
    3. As for voting for this one field: Schools, towns and municipalities don’t ask voters to decide on every capital improvement they make. Did we vote on the new art or music rooms? Was there a vote on the recent traffic improvements in Town? No, we vote for our representatives and trust them to make good decisions based upon input they receive from their constituents and experts. The School District has been doing just that and working on improving and expanding the playing capacity, particularly at the high school, for almost 10 years. They have considered the input from multiple viewpoints and made a decision on which they are now ready to act.

  4. Once again I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to write comments and add to both the article and the public exchange on this issue. This is modern era democracy at its best.


  5. As President of the Mamaroneck School Board, I would like to clarify a few points made by Mr. Sawyer:

    1.First, the proposed renovation of Mamaroneck High School’s Memorial Field is NOT a Fields for Kids initiative, but a District initiative. The District developed this plan after much study and public discussion, in order to address the need for fields that was identified nearly ten years ago, while preserving the Kemper Memorial in place.

    2.Because the District is unable to finance the much needed field renovations in the current economic climate, Fields for Kids generously offered to spearhead a fundraising effort to enable the District to complete Phase I of the Memorial Field project. The Board is very appreciative of their efforts.

    3.This proposed public-private partnership is a financially responsible plan. It is responsive to the feedback that the Board received following the February bond defeat. Residents urged us to focus on Memorial Field and reduce the cost to taxpayers. The reason that the community is not being asked to vote on the project is because the remaining money needed for the project is coming from private funds rather than from taxes. Our students and the community will benefit without burdening taxpayers further.

    4.Finally, we are a public school and our programs and facilities are for all students. I urge Mr. Sawyer to attend some of our games this fall. He may be surprised to observe that . . . the District’s playing fields are truly for ALL our students.

    More information on the Memorial Field project is available on the District website: http://www.mamkschools.org by clicking the link in the “Announcements” section.

  6. The field, I’m sad to concede, will be built. No matter that it’s environmentally immoral to rip up the earth to put down plastic that will help heat it up. They want it. It’s needed, we’re told, and other options, like scaling back demand, are not even on the table. We continue to consume over and above earth’s ability to support us. Plastic grass is a sad sideshow of a larger problem: outsized consumption. But that issue doesn’t go over too well in this community.

    Not one of the people who support the fields in this thread have said how the costs of maintenance and eventual replacement will be handled. The community didn’t just vote down the plastic fields’ initial cost. Many people have privately expressed frustration to me that the taxpayers will get stuck with the legacy costs. Flint Park, I’m told, has an escrow account for that purpose. The district still needs to figure that out. The field in Rye that our district holds up as an inspiration had to be replaced 1x (only months after opening) and repaired more than once. I am getting exact numbers but I hear it’s almost 2x the original price.

    I will continue to search for viable options for more GRASS fields, a longer term goal. Anyone interested in helping me is welcome. kitzwilly@gmail.com

  7. After reading the last two columns written by Jonathan Sawyer, I have a responsibility in my role(s) as a Latino, Mamaroneck parent, and Jew to respond to his position.

    As a Latino in the Mamaroneck community and a long time supporter and former Board member of the Hispanic Resource Center (HRC), I appreciate Mr. Sawyer’s recognition of the HRC and its work on behalf of the immigrants in our community. However, I do not agree with the idea that individuals or our community cannot support multiple organizations and initiatives at the same time. We must support all these initiatives as each one has a different set of objectives and benefit s, all ultimately affecting the health and well being of the diverse members of our community. Even in tough economic periods, such as the one we are currently experiencing, we have rallied behind and provided financial support and volunteers to many organizations that serve our community.

    As a parent of a MHS graduate, a former travel soccer coach, and an active member of Field for Kids I cannot accept Mr. Sawyer efforts to misinform the community about the benefit and safety of synthetic fields. The proposed improvements, under the leadership of the Mamaroneck School Board, have been the result of extensive safety analysis and review. We would not be supporting the use of synthetic fields if they were harmful to our kids. The characterization of FFK fundraising efforts as a “let’s ensure the wealthy get their way” is wrong. This initiative is getting support from all sides of the community, without regard to economic status. Our community clearly sees the long lasting and vast benefits for our kids.

    Finally, as a Jew I cannot accept the insensitive remarks made my Mr. Sawyer about the abilities, or lack of them, of some of our MHS Jewish athletes. He should instead be celebrating and encouraging the diversity in our teams. This type of stereotyping has no place in our community, even if made by a fellow Jew.

    Rather than misinforming, attempting to divide and offending our children, Mr. Sawyer should donate his time to build community by volunteering to some of the organizations working to address the many open needs in our community.

  8. It is the anger that some people are responding to in Jon Sawyer’s article that I think validates his feelings that the New Fields should be open for discussion with opposing viewpoints expressed and heard. There are a lot of people in our town who feel exactly like him and have the exact same questions and frustrations about not being able to get answers. I for one, know Jon cares avidly about the community and uses a combination of humor and seriousness to make his points (think Jon Stewart–granted not as funny or good, but nevertheless still funny.)
    Everything that we deem “For Kids” has importance, but they are not all life or death and we all have different priorities for our kids. These are fields we are talking about, not trauma care. Some have taken a holier than thou attitude as though they are beyond humor, question or dissent. I salute Jon for knowing that the best thing for our kids is open discussion.

  9. ) First of all, I am not against putting that field in the high school, in fact I believe that if a synthetic field should go any where it should be there, the demands on that field are great and this solution works on a lot of different levels.
    2) The point was never suppose to be about swaying the opinion on building the field, if members of our community want to pay for the field, and maintaining it works within the school budget, then go ahead, as my grandmother used to say “Ga-zai Ga-zint enjoy it in good health”. I trust that the people running this for the school know what they are doing and have nothing but good intensions. I know how hard they have worked on this.
    3) The point is that there are a lot, and I mean a lot of people in this community, who are against that field, and no body is talking to them, even worse, nobody is listening to them. In fact, it seems as the project progresses all we do is find new ways to avoid listening to them, and that’s not right and that’s what makes me angry. In fact if we are all going to be honest here we all have to admit we’ve gotten very good at selective listening on this issue.
    4) In the article I alluded to some of the leaders of our community and asked where are they on this issue. I did so not to show these people lack of respect, on the contrary I mentioned Dave Fishman and the Larchmont Board “The Mayor of Larchmont, The coaches at the high school, because I respect these people so much, because I’ve seen them do great things, and I trust that if anyone can make this process more inclusive it is they. It was suppose to be words of confidence in them and in what I know they can achieve, what I know they have achieved, but I know it did not come out that way. I apologize for that.

    Look, do I feel that this field is going to be this wonderful earth changing thing that is going turn all our teams into states champions, or that its important that our teams be state champions, no. Do I think this is going to turn our community into a real life Friday Night lights, or improve our property values, no. Do I firmly believe that this process has been terribly flawed, yes I do. But I also don’t think its right for me to criticize others and not to do the same to myself, and that last article I wrote is worthy of criticism, and for that I am deeply sorry.

  10. Getting past the who-offended-whom aspect of this:

    Some of us are THRILLED to see someone speaking out against these fields and this campaign.

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