PORTLAND — Waynflete School was the city’s first applicant for a waiver to use prohibited pesticides, and the first to be denied.

The school’s application was denied March 21 by the city’s new Pesticide Management Advisory Committee.

“We are going to do what we need to do to find expertise to make the shift to organic, we are going to have to fast track the process,” Waynflete Marketing and Communications Director Rand Ardell said Monday.

The advisory committee was formed with the January 2018 passage of the city’s pesticide use ordinance. The ordinance prohibits using certain synthetic pesticides unless a waiver is granted by the committee or by an appeal to the city manager.

Waynflete School, at 360 Spring St., sought the waiver to apply prohibited synthetic pesticides to two athletic fields and a baseball diamond at the school’s Fore River athletic complex, off outer Congress Street.

“To have safe, healthy, playable turf, we need to apply chemicals in order to control grubs and broadleaf weeds,” Waynflete Athletic Director Ross Burdick said in the application.

The request also noted the city has exempted six of its own fields until January 2021 from the ban on synthetic pesticides.

The waiver request was denied by the seven-member committee, which includes city Sustainability Coordinator Troy Moon.

In a March 22 letter to Burdick, Moon said the school did not demonstrate an emergency or threat to public health, because the fields are not currently in use and there is no evidence grubs exist on them.

Initially, Waynflete sought a waiver to use a total of 48 ounces of the insecticide Acelepryn, 48 ounces of the herbicide Q4, and 24 ounces of the herbicide Roundup at the fields at 184 Osgood Ave. 

When meeting with the committee March 21, Burdick said the school no longer intended to use Roundup.

The fields at Osgood Street, used by 18 teams, were damaged in 2012 by grubs and the skunks that dug for them. The school estimates the fields get 1,100 hours of annual use, and was advised there are no viable organic alternatives for dealing with the grubs.

The school began treating the fields after another school threatened not to play a game because of poor field conditions in 2012.

“Since then we have used grub control in the summer and have not had a recurrence of the problem,” Burdick told the committee.

The waiver application was the first received by the committee, Moon said. A second waiver request was returned to another applicant because it was incomplete.

The PMAC is comprised of Moon, three citizen representatives, a practicing agronomist and two state-licensed landscapers, one of whom is experienced in “organic land care management.”

The committee must hold a hearing within 10 business days on a waiver application, and issue a written decision within three business days.

At Waynflete, Ardell said the school does not use synthetic pesticides on its Spring Street campus and may move ahead in a more labor-intensive manner on its fields.

“We may need more people yanking the weeds,” he said.

David Harry can be reached at 780-9092 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

After its request to use synthetic pesticides on athletic fields was rejected by a Portland committee, Waynflete School said it may have to go back to pulling weeds by hand.


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