It was encouraging to see supporters rally behind BCC's turf field Monday, but this battle is likely to be a long one with no guarantee of ultimate success.
About 150 student-athletes, parents, coaches and political officials gathered to back a $2,1 million project to give Berkshire County a desperately needed artificial turf field. The project is being stalled by appeals from 12 residents whose concerns about the supposed perils of the turf material are based on generalized media reports and whose fears about nearby wetlands were addressed during the long, carefully executed planning process.
This is very much a Pittsfield saga, as turf fields have been springing up all over the state, most recently in West Roxbury in September, without any needless controversy. Pittsfield and Berkshire County can't host regional and state high school tournaments because of the absence of a turf field and the inadequacy of waterlogged Wahconah Park.
This is exactly the kind of investment the Berkshires must make in its youth and it is shameful that a small minority can block it by exploiting a needlessly lengthy appeal process. The state Department of Environmental Protection won't get around to a hearing on a project that has been thoroughly researched and vetted until February.
Supporters must be persistent and make it clear to the DEP and any other relevant officials and agencies that there is deep and broad support for the turf field project, which would be funded in part by a $1 million state environmental bond earmark won by Berkshire elected officials. This project is too important to be pointlessly scuttled.