Neighbors not happy with toxic park "clean-up"
|Ugliness dwells under beautiful Merrie Christmas Park|
Old timers remember how Coconut Grove would turn black when Old Smokey was running. The sky, air, ground would all be pitch dark, all that were toxins floating through the atmosphere. People would call their children into the house to get them out of the clouds of blackness. There has been a cancer cluster in the area of Old Smokey for years.
Merrie Christmas Park has been declared a toxic zone for over a year now and the county has finally gotten around to working on that. They had the same problem at Blanche Park in the Center Grove and other areas of the village.
The Merrie Christmas Park residents feel that the county is just pushing toxic dirt from one end to another and that they are not actually remediating the problem correctly.
As far as the county is concerned, they are doing the right thing and cleaning up the parks correctly. The plan is to cap the soil with new soil, sort of like they did at Blanche Park, but there they used the artificial turf. Eagle-eyed neighbors don't feel the job is being done correctly. They want all the dirt and toxins removed.
The City of Miami's Director of Capital Improvements and Transportation Program, Mark Spanioli says it would cost about $3 million to remove the rest of the contaminated soil. I'm betting that would be much cheaper in the end than health conditions that might arise in the future, not to mention lawsuits.
He says the ground water has been tested and it is fine. The county's website addresses the site and claims that everything is toxic within 1/4 mile of ground zero of that site, which I suppose is the direct center of the park. There are a lot of residences on all four sides of the park which are within that 1/4 mile radius, including Coral Gables, which is right across LeJeune Road.
Another worry from neighbors is the drop in property values. No one wants to buy a house next to a toxic park. As of now the park is still closed to the public and it is quite glaring with heavy machinery surrounded by a green tarp-like wrap around a chainlink fence. Not very inviting. This is what you see when you look up the park on Google Maps. Looks so green and beautiful from the photo, but the message says it all, "Closed."
A neighbor told me, "Technically they are not getting rid of the contaminant, it will still be buried may be or maybe not a little deeper down but certainly spread to areas not contaminated therefore increasing the footprint of the existing contamination. Neighboring properties are selling fast, there may be a difficulty to sell properties nearby in the future. An honestly I don't know how I would feel about letting my kid run around in a park that I
know has chemicals buried couple of feet under the surface."
District Commissioner Marc Sarnoff says he is planning to meet with the neighbors in the near future.
The Drum Circle has gotten involved. They are going to have a circle on Sunday, September 28 from 4 to 6 pm. Of course this won't solve the problem, but it will bring awareness to the problem and they will spread good energy onto the park.
Related story: The problem with Blanche Park
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