Signs encouraging voters to support Proposition 2, which OK’d $6.6 million in bond debt for recreation improvements, sit in a chair on the track at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park ahead of a football game. Monday evening, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly approved issuing the bond debt, but concern was expressed about whether field work would involve artificial turf. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Signs encouraging voters to support Proposition 2, which OK’d $6.6 million in bond debt for recreation improvements, sit in a chair on the track at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park ahead of a football game. Monday evening, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly approved issuing the bond debt, but concern was expressed about whether field work would involve artificial turf. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

City directs $6.6M toward recreation projects approved by voters

Assembly member expressed concerns about one of the project’s link to PFAS

After receiving approval from Juneau voters during the fall municipal election, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly finalized the issuance of $6.6 million in general obligation bond debt and directed funds to finance the construction and equipment costs for park improvements at city-located parks.

The projects include replacing Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park’s eight-lane track and installing artificial turf at the ballfield, along with funding trail maintenance and repairs throughout Juneau including Perseverance Trail, which is slated to undergo slope stabilization, bridge replacement and emergency service access improvements. It will also fund building a new public-use cabin, explained to be similar to the Amalga public-use cabin.

The vote passed unanimously, however, Assembly member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs shared some concerns about PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and the toxic compounds’ link to artificial turf.

The so-called “forever chemicals” have made headlines recently for their links to health issues and a growing number of municipalities across the country have placed bans on installing new artificial turf in city parks, most notably Boston’s mayor, Michelle Wu, who ordered the disallowance in September 2022.

Multiple independent studies along with testing by the Environmental Protection Agency have found the infill of the turfing, most often made with recycled rubber tires called crumb rubber, to contain high levels of the chemicals.

Some of the health issues the chemicals are linked to include cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, fertility issues and birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

City Manager Rorie Watt said he shared similar concerns as Hughes-Skandijs, and noted the decision of whether to install an artificial turf or an alternative for it will likely be discussed in the coming months as the project now moves forward with the funds.

He said there is an ability to choose an option other than artificial turf if desired by the city and residents.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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