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East Aurora considers using pesticides in park

Posted at 2:50 PM, Jun 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-27 19:00:28-04

Weeds have become a growing nuisance at Hamlin Park in the Village of East Aurora. And with Fourth of July around the corner, the Aurora town highway superintendent wants to tackle the problem with pesticides.

David Gunner proposed the idea at a recent East Aurora Village Board meeting. Gunner says the Highway Department is short staffed and uses chemicals to control weeds because the department does not have enough personnel to tie workers up running weed whackers for long periods of time.

 No decision was made as to whether the village will allow pesticides to be used in the park. However, it did open up a conversation on whether it was a good idea.

The Town of Aurora helps maintain the park in East Aurora as part of a services-sharing agreement. The Highway Department is now asking permission to use pesticides in Hamlin Park, just like it uses in seven other town parks.

Pesticides kill plants, fungus, bugs and other unwanted living things. They help farmers keep invasive bugs such as caterpillars from killing crops. Pesticides also have helped improve agriculture production by a wide margin. Pesticides have helped combat disease from both livestock and crops. 

But while there are obvious benefits to using pesticides, there are also risks. Pesticides have leaked into and disrupted ecosystems. When it rains, pesticides from farms flow into local creeks, streams and into bigger bodies of water. This process can have major consequences to ecosystems, killing off non-pest organisms and making the environment more favorable for pests.

If a human or a pet were to consume pesticide, it could cause vomiting, fatigue, skin irritation and more. In more extreme cases, according a study published in 2015, exposure to some pesticides have been linked to childhood cancer

To keep you and your pets safe, PennState Extension recommends you use gloves while using chemicals, wear long sleeve shirts and pants and wear goggles to protect the eyes. It also recommends you wash your hands, boots and any body part that has been exposed to pesticide as soon as possible.

East Aurora mayor and residents are concerned about the idea. It also raises questions about who will do the weed control for the future if pesticides are not used?

The village board is expected to vote on the proposal next week.

7 Eyewitness News Ed Reilly spent the day in East Aurora talking to residents and officials about the issue.