MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the second time this month, the City of Miami was forced to close a popular park after small sample tests find poisonous materials in the soil.
Crews are now turning people away from Merrie Christmas Park on LeJeune Road, just south of U.S. 1. They will start testing more samples from around the entire park next week.
The city recently closed Blanche Park in Coconut Grove.
Young mom Eunice Sala-Suarez grew up enjoying Merrie Christmas Park. She still does nearly every day with her kids and dog, Diesel. Sala-Suarez said the park’s closing and possible poison problems caught her off guard.
“It’s a little worrisome because the kids do get into the dirt a lot,” Sala-Suarez said. “We have to hose them down when we get to the house, covered in dirt. They eat dirt, you know, they’re little.”
Miami-Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resource Management recently discovered the small patches of toxins after routine testing for ash in locations surrounding the Old Smoky Incinerator.
It sent a letter to the City of Miami recommending the City test all of its parks. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Mark Sarnoff both confirmed the city will indeed test all 114 of its parks.
County investigators point out the toxins are not from the incinerator, but most likely from solid waste dumped in the area more than 50 years ago. That was before environmental records were kept and regulations were created.
Dr. Jefry Biehler, Chair of Pediatrics at Miami Children’s Hospital told CBS 4 News, “minimizing background exposure to environmental toxins is very important. Each toxin can affect children in many different ways.”
Dr. Biehler continued, “Parents and pediatricians are understandably concerned since we know that these substances are associated with everything from learning to developmental problems, heart disease, anemia, even cancer.”