Durham mother concerned about pesticide use at public park

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – Tina Hurlbert is a mother from Durham who enjoys watching her daughter, Sofia, play Little League softball. Yet, on Wednesday at Chrystal Lake Park in Middletown, Tina tells News 8 she had to make a tough decision no parent with a young athlete ever wants to.

“I said I’m just going to take Sofia home because it’s not safe, this isn’t okay, I’m not comfortable with it, nobody should be on the field right now,” said Hurlbert.

The reason for Tina’s decision is a sign she says found posted on the field that had the words, “pesticide application” on it, followed by the date of that very day. There was also an image on the sign that clearly warned people not to use the grass.

“I was the only mom who left with her kid because it wasn’t a safe place to be,” said Hurlbert.

Tina says she then took her story to Facebook where her message reached a pair of moms from West Hartford who started a group called Grassroots West Hartford. Officials with that organization tell us they’ve been working with public works officials in their community to stop pesticide use on their ball fields.

“Our town, I think, wants to respond to what the community wants so they made the pledge to send a few of their groundskeepers to a course, a pretty extensive course and start to transition to organic and natural lawn care,” said Kim Huges, co-founder Grassroots West Hartford.

But according to the National Pesticide Information Center, “Because people use pesticides to kill, prevent, repel, or in some way adversely affect some living organism (the pest), pesticides by their nature are toxic to some degree. Even the least-toxic products, and those that are natural or organic, can cause health problems if someone is exposed to enough of it.”

In Tina’s case she says even if steps are taken to stop pesticide use on this Middletown field she’ll likely never feel comfortable letting her daughter play ball on this field.

“No, we wouldn’t play here again,” said Hurlbert.

News 8 spoke to the mayor of Middletown, Daniel Drew, about the Tina’s concerns. He says the city is looking to get to the bottom of what happened, adding he personally doesn’t want pesticides to be used on city grass.

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