Opponents won't give up Beach Chalet artificial turf debate

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Artificial turf is being installed for new soccer fields in San Francisco, after a lengthy battle and debates before state and city leaders, but opponents hope the fight is not over.

The Beach Chalet Soccer Fields in Golden Gate Park are expected to open in December.

There are other soccer fields in San Francisco that are covered with artificial turf, but the four that are being prepared at the Beach Chalet, are still bringing a passionate debate.

"The rights of parents are really being bulldozed, literally," Kathleen McCowin, an artificial turf opponent, said.

McCowin describes herself as a soccer mom and is one of the vocal opponents of the artificial turf being installed at Beach Chalet. She was arrested for trying to block construction that began the day after voters approved the project last year.

"This particular infill is over 50 percent carbon black, a known human carcinogen, and if your kids are like mine, they come home covered with this," McCowin said.

But limited research on the recycled tire pellets is inconclusive. Thursday, ABC7 News learned state environmental officials will conduct another study after one in 2010 found no significant health risk.

"The pellets I think are a minimal concern that we deal with," Gabriella Rustia said.

Rustia is a former soccer player and now coach for the Vikings Youth Soccer League who thinks the artificial turf will be safer than the grass she played on. She told ABC7 News, "Since I was playing in middle school, I had constant ankle sprains and then ultimately I broke one of my ankles."

The turf war over the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields has been fought and won by the city in numerous arenas including unanimous approval from the California Coastal Commission, but there is still a lawsuit pending.
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