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Pesticide Spraying at Cahill Draws Residents' Ire

Village Hall was packed Monday night, mostly with people concerned about the spraying of pesticides at Cahill Park Sunday morning.

More than 100 people flooded into Whitefish Bay Village Board chambers Monday night, most of whom were there to talk about something that wasn't even on the meeting agenda: pesticides.

The village sent out stating Dukes Landscaping would spray pesticides at at 4 p.m. Sunday, so some residents planned a picnic at that time to protest the use of pesticides.That picnic never happened, because the landscaping company decided to beat the Sunday afternoon rain and spray earlier in the morning.

Karen Sands, who previously served on the village's Environmental Advisory Commission, said she was there when the landscaping crews sprayed pesticides. She said she was alarmed to hear the crews accelerated their application time to beat the rain, since federal law does not allow spraying within four to eight hours of a rain event.

The use of pesticides in public parks has been discussed at Village Hall for the past five 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 in 2010, and last year, the village that includes pesticide-free turf care practices in most green spaces.

This year, the Village Board adopted a plan that moved away from natural turf care, mostly because of the higher price tag.

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Several residents expressed frustration with repeatedly lobbying against pesticides, and one resident even proposed a village-wide referendum on the issue.

Anne O'Connor said she could smell pesticides from Klode Park just by walking out of her front door last summer, and she worried that her family was exposed to the chemicals. She pointed out that Momentum, the name of the chemical used at Cahill on Sunday morning, caused an Ohio school to shut down for a few hours last October after 47 kids got sick inhaling fumes following an application.

O'Connor said she gathered 113 signatures supporting natural turf care in Klode Park last year, and she believes the majority of the public feels the same way.

"I know there is not full board support for eliminating this right now, so what I would like to know is, What is the tipping point for this board? How much support do we have to show as a community to make a decision that pesticides will not be tolerated in this community?" she said. "I don't know how Shorewood got to this point, but they did."

After roughly 10 residents spoke on the topic, Village President Julie Siegel said she was going to end public comment. Resident Robert Crawford called on the board to overrule Siegel and allow more public comment, which did not happen, prompting some boos from the audience.

Cahill Park is managed by the school district, the village and Friends of Whitefish Bay Baseball. Village Manager Pat DeGrave said the baseball boosters organization decided to go above and beyond the traditional pesticide application, so they approached the village about additional spraying on Wednesday. The village didn't send out the email notification until receiving details about the specific chemical later in the week. Warning placards were placed on the Cahill fence Thursday morning, though.

"It's a three-way partnership, and under the turf management plan, we were no longer pursuing the natural turf management plan, so they were authorized to do that," DeGrave said.

What's next

The discussion may continue in the future, as another fertilizer application is expected for the Little League field, , on Memorial Day weekend. DeGrave said he will check with trustees to see where they stand and whether it should be addressed at a future meeting.

While the residents at Monday night's meeting were very passionate about pesticide-free parks, DeGrave said he also gets phone calls from people that complain about the high price tag and aesthetics of natural turf care methods.

"I feel like I'm stuck between two very competing interests, so what do you do?" he said.


For more perspective on the pesticides issue, read resident Anne O'Connor's on the topic.

Sally Smaida May 10, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Bob McBride - Are you able to prove to me that my baby's genetic based disability or my mother's lymphoma are not from pesticides. Because I worked out daily in Klode park while pregnant and my mother lives across from Cahill park. I have often questioned if there is a correlation. When someone you love is afflicted by conditions that research has shown to be environmentally based, you think twice. I hope you don't have to experience this before you open your mind.
Tiredboys May 10, 2012 at 10:18 PM
I'm ok with weeds....just cut the grass. The village doesn't have to spend any money on pesticides....I'm guessing most of 'us' against pesticides would be ok with that :)
Tiredboys May 10, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Also, Bob, you are right that no one has the right to insist the Village pay for something unnecessary.....pesticeds are not necessary nor is eliminating weeds. So we agree :)
Bob McBride May 10, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Did your doctor conclude that those were the causes? Is he or she willing to publish their findings to that effect, if so? I know people who believe that their child's autism was caused by vaccinations that the child received. They spent countless hours championing that cause. That theory has essentially been disproved and, in some cases, it's been argued that the result of people not vaccinating their kids due to the scare that theory induced caused other health issues. Some people still refuse to believe that it's not related to the vaccinations. I don't pretend to understand why there's a need to think "if only we hadn't done/been exposed to this, this wouldn't happened", but apparently there is. Guessing and questioning isn't good enough and it shouldn't be good enough. Even supposedly rock solid theories can be found to be flawed, if not outright faked for the purposes of personal gain. Changes made based on those theories have in some cases created unintended, negative consequences. Again, if it's that important to you, band together with others who feel the same, get out there and weed or find a way to make up the difference in cost. Or question why doing it the other way costs so much more in the first place.
Bob McBride May 10, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I'm not going to disagree with you on that at all. I've got a father who refused to pay for any kind of weed control and he was perfectly satisfied as long as everything was green (or reasonably close to green - he didn't like paying to water the lawn either) and, frankly, as long it was cut and trimmed it looked fine. Certainly wouldn't have a problem with any of the Village green spaces going the same routed.
Sally Smaida May 10, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Beautiful consensus! Now if only the broader dispute could be worked out as seemlessly as you two just resolved it.
Bob McBride May 10, 2012 at 11:00 PM
We haven't heard from the "weeds are bad for my kid's allergies" folks yet, Sally.
Sports Mom May 11, 2012 at 01:25 AM
I'd be thrilled with no pesticides and a field of grass mixed with weeds. We'd all save money. And dandelions bloom for about three or four weeks out of 52.
Gardenlady May 11, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Evidence: http://www.chem-tox.com/neuroblastoma/default.htm#homespray
Gardenlady May 11, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Scroll down to this title: Neuroblastoma Linked to Homes Treated with Pesticides SOURCE: Epidemiology: 12(1):20-26, January, 2001 in the link below.
Gardenlady May 11, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Another for McBride: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2102288/Endosulfan-pesticide-linked-blood-cancers-children.html
Gardenlady May 11, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Brain abnormalities in children: http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpps/health/pesticide-linked-to-brain-abnormalities-in-kids-us-research-finds-dpgonc-20120430-bb_19577692
Gardenlady May 11, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Bob McBride, a simple Google search will produce more than 13 million documents from 6 continents measuring the effects of pesticides on children, adults, water, the soil, and I could go on and on. Read more, type less, Bob McBride.
Gardenlady May 11, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Trees are worse for allergies as anyone will tell you.
Bob McBride May 11, 2012 at 02:04 AM
So I guess that means you can't produce any documented cases of anyone having suffered seriously or dying as a result of exposure to pesticides on WFB green spaces.
Bob McBride May 11, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Are you an allergist in addition to being a "Gardenlady"? Do you speak for everyone with kids in WFB? Or do you just struggle with reading comprehension (as you've demonstrated a couple of times here already)?
Gardenlady May 11, 2012 at 02:52 AM
All those in favor of Bob getting a life?
Bob McBride May 11, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Anyone as obsessed with pesticides as you are really has no business questioning whether or not others need to get a life.
dills May 11, 2012 at 03:14 AM
The breast cancer study, done for the Miilwaukee Jewish Federation , showed 25 %of the residents in this zipcode are of Jewish heritage, mostly Ashkenazi Jews. Two percent of Ashkenazi Jews have a genetic mutation which puts them at a higher risk for breast cancer. This was one explanation for higher rates of breast cancer in the north shore. High fat diets are associated with breast cancer also. BUT, skip the pesticides altogether, save the money, and cut the lawn short. I've pulled a lot of weeds out of the fields in Whitefish Bay, but never had any company. Its easiest after it rains, so when you Baseball and Soccer kids have a rainout, get them out there.
Laura Nankin May 11, 2012 at 03:27 AM
dills, I had the same thought when I heard the baseball team requested that the field be sprayed for weeds. If they are concerned about the appearance of the fields, get those kids out there with their parents and siblings and spend an hour 2-3 times during the season cleaning up their field. good exercise and fresh air for them, and safer and healthier for everyone else. There are often many ways to solve a single problem and sometimes the solution uses more than just one of them. Good point about doing it after a rain-out!
Olive May 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM
I find it troubling that all these People in the village who are opposed to pesticide use have to knock themselves out going to meetings, bringing in experts, developing a comprehensive turf management plan, etc., but when the sports teams want to spray? Instant approval. No problem.
Gardenlady May 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Thanks for making my point for me that much better.
Angela May 11, 2012 at 04:18 PM
That's a great point, Olive. Thanks for raising it.
My Opinion May 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM
If there is compelling science behind these health claims, why haven't our elected state or national leaders taken these issues to the legislative front? I am really neutral on the issue but feel our state and national leaders should be determining legislative action, not our local leaders. Cars did not have seat beltsfor years and it was not the role of village government to legislate such.
Laura Nankin May 14, 2012 at 12:45 AM
And tobacco companies argued for years that cigarettes did not cause cancer in spite of all the contrary evidence. The best the govt could do was provide warning labels. cigarettes are still causing cancer and they are still legal. Follow the money. Everyone out there who is against big government should be grateful for the opportunity to have a grass roots effort (No pun intended) to make local decisions rather than wait for the state or federal government to mandate something.
A Westrup May 14, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Perhaps we could take a bit bigger view. Pesticide run-off is ruining our lakes and streams and the very delicate ecosystem. Fertilizers and pesticides over stimulate lake plant growth, suffocating plankton and small fish and larger fish and wildlife. Perhaps we should all plan a large field trip to discovery world to learn how we are damaging one of the greatest natural resources on the plant so that we can have and nice green lawn and our kids won't have to run over dandelions!
dills May 14, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Perhaps Discovery World could be more honest and show how MMSD dumps human excrement in our precious Lake Michigan after a rain. Then maybe the Mayor of Milwaukee Tom Barrett would do something!
Gardenlady May 14, 2012 at 09:12 PM
This is what MMSD does and where the waste comes from. With 28 communities participating,I doubt Mayor Barrett will have much say as only one mayor. MMSD is a regional government agency that provides water reclamation and flood management services for about 1.1 million customers in 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee Area. We serve 411 square miles that cover all, or segments of six watersheds.
M Ulander May 15, 2012 at 07:15 AM
I am interpreting your comment about anti-pesticiders stuffing the box to mean that you believe that people who are pro-pesticide are good people, they wouldn't stuff the box. Since anti-pesticiders would stuff the box, they must be bad people. Is this what you believe?
tom sherman June 07, 2012 at 09:54 PM
one does not have to prove that pesticides killed anybody all one has to do is show that there is a PROBABILITY based on the chemical used. chalk to line the infield nobody complains about cause due to its chemical nature there is a low probability of a problem. people who spread it if studied probably would not have a higher cancer rate. they could not prove cause and effect for smoking it was banned based on statistical studies on smokers death rates and the fact that the hundreds of chemicals that smokers put in their lungs had a chemistry that might cause lung cancer.

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