Updated Nov. 15 at 10:30 a.m.
The future of Navin Field, historic site of Tiger Stadium, is still up for debate.
The Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) will soon be utilizing the field for their youth sports organizations and has suggested that installing artificial turf would be a more cost-effective way to care for it. It's likely they will also limit public access to the field, and may even charge for entry.
Detroit PAL contends that artificial turf would allow for more schoolchildren to play more often on the historic site, but the Navin Field Grounds Crew, the volunteer group that has maintained the site since 2010
, and its supporters insist the field could be better used as a natural-grass showcase diamond for PAL's various special events and league championships.
NFGC co-founder (and former MT
copy editor) Dave Mesrey also claims that PAL's proposal to tear out the grass and replace it with plastic turf does not represent the preservation of a public park as called for in Senator Carl Levin's 2009 $3.8 million federal earmark.
While Grounds Crew founder Tom Derry says he supports PAL's mission, his group remains opposed to PAL's plan for artificial turf on the historic site because, he says, real grass is simply "safer and healthier for children to play on."
Derry claims that artificial turf is harder on children's bodies, and that it causes more frequent and more severe ankle and knee injuries than natural grass.
Citing concerns in a recent ESPN investigation on artificial turf
, Derry also cautioned against the use of the "crumb rubber" infill commonly used in artificial turf today.
Now the grounds crew is urging citizens to attend a committee meeting this week of Detroit City Council, where the transfer of the field to the Detroit Economic Development Corporation will be discussed.
According to the Corktown Community Organization's Debra Walker, this could be one of the community's last chances to speak before the council.
"They can approve or deny the land transfer with conditions," Walker said. "They can have the condition that PAL has to show they've done their due diligence and that they've researched the use of turf over grass. They can ask them to use grass for six months and then explore using turf. They can also ask them to make sure there is meaningful public access. And when they approve the transfer with those conditions, it makes it official and PAL has to comply."
Community members will have two minutes apiece to voice their concerns about PAL's care of the field. And their stories could make a big difference.
The meeting of City Council's Planning & Development committee will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, November 19, on the 13th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center at 2 Woodward Ave., Detroit.