Letters: Princeton Community Village residents concerned about impacts of artificial turf field proposed for Hilltop Park

To the Editor:

We have been informed that Hilltop Park is about to be changed drastically by the installation of an artificial turf field that will be used by for-profit soccer organizations. We residents of Princeton Community Village, one of the densely populated neighborhoods near the park, wish to register our opposition.

First, let us state that the park already has many facilities that all of Princeton enjoys:  a playground for young children, a basketball court and skate park for older kids, an existing soccer field that is much more ecofriendly than the one proposed, and a softball field. Hilltop Park is beloved for its open field, which is used by a great many people around the clock and around the year. It is a wonderful place to enjoy nature, to take a walk, to visit with neighbors, and to find space. We citizens of the community do not need a land grab for a high-tech facility that will cost Princeton taxpayers a few million dollars in up-front costs and maintenance.

Hilltop Park is lovely as it is, but it is almost over-used now:

1.  The present soccer field already attracts so many cars that pedestrians are endangered by illegal parking along narrow roads.

2.  Residents of Princeton Community Village routinely find their parking spaces commandeered by soccer spectators. The new field will greatly exacerbate PCV’s parking problems.

3.  Residents of Princeton Community Village (soon to comprise 250-plus households) love the park. From babies in strollers to seniors, people in the neighborhood use the park a lot.

4.  A great concern about the location of Hilltop Park is excessive runoff. The hill slope along Bunn Drive below the park is barely stable enough for the construction of the past decades. How can it tolerate runoff from additional tons of plastic grass and the toxic base under it?

All in all, what can the Princeton Recreation Department and the Princeton Recreation Commission be thinking? How can the expanded soccer facility not degrade the environment and the community?

We respectfully request that the Princeton Council hold a special hearing regarding this project and examine the costs of the new soccer field in Hilltop Park. It is not too late to quash a very bad thing.

This statement has been co-signed by 123 neighbors at Princeton Community Village.

Barbara  De Graff  Ajami
for residents of Princeton Community Village