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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Neighbors not happy with toxic park "clean-up"

Ugliness dwells under beautiful Merrie Christmas Park
Neighbors who live near and around Merrie Christmas Park are not happy with the clean-up job going on now to remove the toxins covering the land. This park along with so many others in the area (and the county) have been found to have toxins -  "remnant ash" consisting of glass and heavy metals along with arsenic and other carcinogens under the surface of this beautiful lawn you see here; most park toxins in our area seem to have come from a long ago incinerator called "Old Smokey." 

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

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neighbors know that realistically it's impossible to get rid of ALL the contaminants. They would have to dig so much and so deep that all the trees would be wiped out. Most of us are good with the city's plan EXCEPT for what to do with the toxic soil once they dig it up. We think that any bad dirt that is dug up should be REMOVED -- Not RE-USED. Any slopes or re-grading should be done with clean soil.

AND we need a guarantee that any remediation that they do will lift the county's Contaminated Site designation.

September 21, 2014 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great and down to earth reply. People who don't even live here and never visited the park are over-complaining. Let the work be done!
You can contact the city to receive all the technical details. We did and surprisingly received a prompt reply.

We don't want the park to become a "barbie" plastic artificial turf thing!

Technically speaking your baby would have to dig through the artificial turf at the play ground, then through the rocky soil to get to the contaminated soil. Never ever saw either a baby nor a toddler digging at this park. The same was stated by so many down- to earth-senior neighbors, who live here since the late 1930ies or who moved to CG in the late 50ies. Their kids, grandchildren and grand grand children did not eat soil, grass, leaves...

Give it a break. Let the city finally do their job. We have been waiting already too long for the reopening. And yes, I am going to let my kids play in the park!

September 21, 2014 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Give it a break." Really? The City made the mess and now they can clean it up. Redistributing the contaminated soil so the net effect is the whole park is just a little contaminated is a solution. Remove the contaminated soil and lift the "adjacent to a toxic site" description to 100's of deeds in Miami and Coral Gables. Or perhaps the City of Miami can compensate the property owners for the lost value to their homes (10's of millions).

What will be the effect on the tax base in area now and into the future? MILLIONS of dollars will be lost in property taxes for City of Miami and Coral Gables because the toxin are NEVER going away and all of the homes within a 1/4 mile will have the "adjacent to a toxic site" added to their deeds. I would not be surprised to see Coral Gables file suit against the City of Miami. Ooops, there goes another million dollars. Do the right thing and REMOVE the toxins - don't just spread them around. "Penny wise now" is definitely dollar stupid in the next 18 months and forever.

September 22, 2014 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The entire world has become a toxic issue. Each person requires a certain minimal amount of heat, BTU's to merely exist; eat, water, clothing, transportation, education, health care, plus, plus, etc., and etc.. It's all inescapable, but only to the vast majority. But, a minority of people are coping and are adapting and moving into the 21st century leaving these types of contamination behind them by using modern technology. This park is like a grain of sand on some beach. Relax, it all going to be okay soon.

Jobie Steppe

September 22, 2014 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:53 PM was there any information about a cancer cluster in the technical details you received from the city. I bet you and your kids would not be found any where close to any of the parks contaminated in Miami if that information was disclosed to you.

September 22, 2014 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Assuming that a cancer cluster even existed.

September 25, 2014 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it does the half a$$ job is negligence.

September 26, 2014 9:13 AM  

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