School district walks back plans for pesticide treatment

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The Point Pleasant Beach Board of Education has reversed its decision to use chemical herbicides to treat its fields and grounds following pushback from borough parents on the issue during a board of education meeting ON May 25.

The herbicide treatment using Barricade 4FL and Escalade2 was scheduled for the morning of May 28. Parents were notified of the plan on May 20.

“After considering the stakeholder feedback shared at last night’s meeting, the board has canceled the pesticide treatment scheduled for this weekend and will be pursuing greener options,” Superintendent William Smith told The Ocean Star on Wednesday. 

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Sabrina Bezerra, who lives in close proximity to the school, has three children in the district. She explained to the board the dangers of pesticides, citing federal and university studies. 

“The possible adverse effects of these chemical pesticides are limitless,” said Ms. Bezerra.  

Ms. Bezerra said the specific herbicides the district had planned to use on its fields, Barricade 4FL and Escalade2, are extremely harmful to the humans and environment. The US Environmental Protection Agency says humans and animals should take caution around the substance.

The applicator, TruGreen, has a list of pesticides used on its website.

“All 32 of those pesticides pose threats to our environment including our water supplies, our aquatic organisms and insects,” said Ms. Bezerra. “The uses of these poisonous chemicals are truly disastrous in particular to the school’s proximity to Lake Louise and the ocean.”

Ms. Bezerra also brought up a recent school campaign showing the dangers of cancer to students. 

“How can we on one hand show the terrifying and terrible effects that cancer has had on us and our community and then knowingly apply these cancer-causing toxins to the areas where children play, learn and grow,” she said. 

Peggy Stillufsen backed up what Ms. Bezerra had to say. 

“Sabrina was calling these pesticides,” said Ms. Stillufsen, “I’m going to call them what they are, poisons.”

She said the plan was not acceptable. 

“These are deadly toxins that we are putting right into our sponge-like grass here that goes right into our ecosystem,” she said. “We can do better than that, in fact, we have to do better than that.”

Three more parents spoke to the board echoing the disapproval of the action. Parents said the school should look into greener alternatives.

After calling off the use, Mr. Smith told The Ocean Star, “We are very close to full green/organic care of the district property currently, and we think we will be able to meet the community’s requests in the near future.”

The borough is currently working on developing a plan to reduce the use of pesticides in the borough. According to Mayor Paul Kanitra, more work still has to be done before any action can be moved.

Mr. Smith said the school would be in support of regulation in Point Beach and would “hope to be partners in that endeavor.”

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