Going Natural: Village Won't Use Pestcides in Parks

Village president voices concern as program will cost about $15,000 more than herbicide sprays.

The Whitefish Bay Village Board Monday approved a revised natural turf care program in village parks that will cost $18,382 - or about $15,000 more than spraying herbicides. 

The use of pesticides in public parks has been discussed at Village Hall for the past four years, culminating in 2010 with village residents protesting the use of pesticides in the parks before the village board. As a pilot program, the board agreed not to spray pesticides on and Parks last summer, and budgeted $20,000 this year for a pesticide-free turf care program.

The village's Environmental Advisory Commission recommended a comprehensive plan that includes aerating, spraying compost tea and adding nutrients to the soil in Buckley, Cahill, Klode and Schoolhouse parks, as well as to greenspace at Fairmount and Lydell. The carried a cost of $20,000.

The revised plan adopted Monday eliminates a pilot program to implement natural turf care practices in the median of Santa Monica Boulevard, cutting $1,605. Trustees also decided not to implement natural lawn care practices on triangular rights-of-way in the village.

If the village were to go back to a traditional turf maintenance plan, the village would spend around $3,500 to spray herbicides at all village properties.

In one motion, the board unanimously voted in support of the plan, but in a second motion, Village President Julie Siegel was the only board member to vote against funding the program.

In a later interview, Siegel said she supported part of the plan, but she did not want to fund the turf management aspects of the program that she disagreed with. Without funding, the village would not be able to implement aeration and other aspects of the plan, she said.

She voiced concerns about spending the extra money for natural turf care, citing e-mails she received from concerned residents.

‘We might be OK this year, but if you look at next year, we are losing a lot of money. Does it make sense to lose 20 grand this year if we’re not going to be funding it next year?” Siegel asked. “These are very tough decisions, and there are a lot of emotions involved, but $20,000 is a lot of money.”

Trustee James Roemer said there are residents on both sides of the issue that feel strongly about the pesticides issue.

“I think it’s prudent to go incrementally here,” Roemer said. “I would suggest a little moderation with how far we go with the program.”

Siegel's budget concerns reside, in large part, with state aid cuts. The village expects to face a $300,000 cut in state aid in 2012, with only roughly one-third of those revenue losses offset by savings through employee concessions on benefits.

ike May 18, 2011 at 04:05 AM
Kevin - Thank you for answering the questions and not just ignoring them. It's nice to know that our voices are heard. You have to understand, when people see cost increases, their thoughts automatically go to, "How much more am I to pay for all of this." $20k doesn't seem like a lot compared to those other costs and sounds like it will fit into the budget fine. Before people get concerned about Milorganite coming from nutrients processed from sewage, here are some websites (one from Milorganite (the video is kind of cheesy) and one from an unbiased reporter, or so they seem) for more education... http://www.planetnatural.com/site/milorganite.html http://www.milorganite.com/home/ Sounds like we may notice a smell after application, but it goes away after a couple of days. I am not an expert by any means, but this stuff is supposed to be pretty beneficial to lawns. Besides, we may get it for free!!! I think it's great that WFB is acting on concerns about chemical pesticides. It's very forward thinking (I know you sucked on DDT WFBMike, but I really don't want my daughter to) and very attractive to future young homebuyers.
Melanie Ariens May 18, 2011 at 01:25 PM
Thanks for your clarifications and perspective, Kevin. The EAC's plan was designed within what the Village already had budgeted for turf care. No new funds were requested.
Tiredboys May 18, 2011 at 01:51 PM
WFB Mike....inhaled DDT....explains A LOT! lol!!! I'm sure my neighbors aren't super happy about our 'natural' looking lawn but I do feel better about it.
ike May 18, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Uhh... not sure why you had to throw in a comment about women and make-up, maybe its the DDT in your brain? There are probably other comparisons you could of made that wouldn't offend the women of WFB. Since the village is already promoting the use of fertilizer (Milogranite), your battle becomes easier.
ike May 19, 2011 at 12:40 AM
I'm not losing my mind, this comment was a reply to a comment that has since been deleted.


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