$2.5M soil cleanup slated for Hammocks Community Park

Testing that showed traces of arsenic at H a m m o c k s Community Park will lead to a $2.5 million Miami-Dade County project to remove contaminated soil in 2014.

The project is due to begin in April at the heavily used West Kendall recreational area at 9885 Hammocks Blvd. Built in 1986, the 15-acre park that adjoins Hammocks Middle School was among the first 55 of 112 county parks to be tested for potential contamination.

In addition to remediation, Miami- Dade Commissioner Juan Zapata has listed $500,000 for renovations of the community and concession center, and $94,000 for baseball field renovations as unfunded project needs. Random testing in August 2012 disclosed that both the park and a portion of an adjacent school field had “elevated levels of arsenic in the soil,” according to Doris V. Howe, communications manager for Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces.

Following the report of arsenic traces, an initial decontamination undertaken by the Parks Department spread a oneinch surface of clean material over all affected areas.

“Department of Environmental Regulation investigators have deemed the entire park as safe for continued use,” she said, emphasizing that treatment was a temporary precautionary measure and park activities have continued without fear of a health hazard.

“The documented arsenic levels were, on average, 20 times higher than those in surrounding areas,” said Wilbur Mayorga, chief of DERM’s Environmental Monitoring and Restoration Division, noting some levels of arsenic appear in nearly all soil samples.

“The safety standard for this type of testing is less than 2.1 milligrams per kilogram of soil samplings,” he explained. “Testing of surrounding neighborhood areas showed this rate occurring only in park areas, not on adjacent land.”

The permanent remedy will place 12 inches of clean soil and a geo-textile liner on affected areas at an approximate cost of $2.5 million, including potential excavations and proper disposal, he explained. “The work will be done in phases so that nearly all of current park activities can continue without interruption.”

Notices of contamination were sent to parents of Hammocks Middle School students following a November 2012 public meeting with Parks and Health officials.

“The plan also includes preservation of all existing buildings and structures, including drainage, irrigation, and lighting during construction,” Howe said, adding that only the relocation of the Optimist Club of Kendall Hammocks baseball program will most likely be necessary during remediation.

A similar testing was carried out at Indian Hammocks Park by DERM, which determined that no arsenic remediation was required for that park area, Howe said.

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