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PYA Fields Are Pesticide-Free

Last month PYA executives made the decision to forgo chemical pesticide treatments on Lion’s Field off Sandy Hollow Road. The fields will be maintained with natural products and modified horticultural methods, including frequent aeration and over seeding throughout the season.

“PYA has always considered the health of the children as a critical part of the program and have had licensed professionals supply and administer the products at Lions Field. After looking at the mounting evidence and getting advice from experts in the area of natural products, we decided that maintaining the fields naturally was the best option for the kids and the environment,” said Billy Omeltchenko, president of the PYA. “We are optimistic we can make this work.”

“I think it’s fantastic” said Juliane Saary-Littman, parent of two young athletes who has been leading the effort to eliminate pesticides on the playing fields. “I wanted my kids to participate in the great PYA programs, but I didn’t want to have to worry about their exposure to pesticides. Now I don’t have to!”

Facilitating the discussions between the parents and the PYA was Patti Wood, executive director of Port Washington-based Grassroots Environmental Education. Grassroots has been recognized by the EPA for its work on natural turf programs, and has trained more than 400 professionals in the New York area in the science of natural turf management.

“We applaud the PYA board for considering the impact of pesticides on our children, our drinking water and fragile ecosystems,” said Patti. “It’s not easy to take this first step away from dependence on chemicals…we will all benefit from this important decision.”

Another parent, Nanette Melkonian, says “I am grateful to the administrators of PYA for protecting our children’s health and thankful for Juliane’s leadership and Patti and Doug Wood for their efforts and expertise that helped make this possible.”

Tal Vacchio, superintendent of the Port Washington Water District also applauds the decision of the PYA board. “Organic fields require less water which is a good thing and a pesticide free property doesn’t pollute our aquifers. We’re thrilled that they have made the decision not to use pesticides.”

“This decision is evidence of how respectful collaboration among various constituents and organizations can accomplish a quality result,” said Omeltchenko. “We were able to bring together Scotts Miracle Gro, who supports our transition to natural maintenance by continuing its program free of pesticides; the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District for providing a forum for substantive conversations; and Grassroots Environmental Education.”