By Mike Murphy email@example.com
Posted Sep 15, 2017 at 7:26 AM
Updated Sep 15, 2017 at 7:26 AM
Parks staff are dealing with more weeds and pest damage a year into the moratorium
CANANDAIGUA — The first year of a five-year moratorium on the use of pesticides in city parks is up.
And city parks staff are having to deal with more weeds and pests, according to a memo prepared by parks staff and the Department of Public Works.
City Council is now weighing a lifting of the moratorium, which was narrowly approved last June, and instead would rely on an Integrated Pest Management program that was in use previously. A motion to repeal the moratorium was OK’d by a 3-1 vote at council’s environmental parks committee Tuesday night.
An organic herbicide sprayed in landscape beds in Kershaw Park and the City Pier was ineffective, according to Jim Sprague, director of public works for the city.
Northeast Park also is showing signs of heavy grub damage, leaving a thin and weak turf that creates safety issues for those who use the athletic fields there, according to the report.
“This has not worked very well,” Sprague said at the committee meeting.
Also, parks staff members worked more hours to control weeds than they did when the pesticide Roundup was applied, which costs three times less than the cost of the herbicide, according to Parks Maintenance Supervisor Dick Gates.
“And it doesn’t work,” Gates said.
The report stops short of recommending the moratorium’s end, but does say keeping it in place will change the way city parks look and are maintained.
Councilmember Matt Martin said the moratorium was a bad idea when it was voted on and it still is, in calling for a repeal.
“I don’t want to see us lose any of our assets or resources,” Martin said. “I don’t want to see anybody getting hurt.”
City Councilmember Anita Twitchell, a proponent of the moratorium, said other methods — different landscaping or different herbicides among them — should be tried rather than “scrap” the idea as soon “we hit bumps in the road.”
“Let’s be willing to stick with it awhile, like we promised we would,” Twitchell said.
The former pest management program, which was instituted in 2010, does call for the limited use of pesticides and notes their application, on average, is done every five years. The program was completed with the assistance of Cornell University turf management researchers and the city needs to rely on the advice of experts, said Councilmember David Whitcomb.
“I don’t believe the way we used pesticides in the past or the way staff will use in the future … is really that outside the norm or dangerous,” Whitcomb said.