MIAMI (CBSMiami) –There is new concern Monday over the safety of South Florida parks.The City of Miami closed a third park last week, saying it’s contaminated with hazardous materials and more parks may be shut down soon.
Merrie Christmas Park, Blanche Park, and Douglas Park are three major parks in the City of Miami that just weeks ago were covered with children playing but now they are locked up with no one allowed to touch them.READ MORE: Man Sought In NW Miami-Dade Machete Attack
Coconut Grove Resident Linda Williams asked, “Do we have a little Chernobyl here?
It’s not quite a radioactive nuclear plant but Linda Williams believes the park closures have to do with Old Smokey, Miami’s old incinerator that used to blow thick ash day and night for years.
“Oh lots of smoke. There were certain days like Mondays, you couldn’t do laundry because the ash would literally cover the ground, your rooftop, your porches,” said Williams.
Old Smokey was shut down and torn down following a lawsuit in the 1970’s. It’s now a fire rescue training station but could it’s dirty past be haunting the three parks? The city says yes, but it didn’t come through the air.
CBS4’s David Sutta asked, “They all share something in common?”
“We have found documentation that at some point they were a rock pit and they were acquired for the purpose of depositing trash and debris,” said City of Miami Assistant City Manager Alice Bravo.READ MORE: Pembroke Pines Police Officers Take Oath To 'Serve And Protect' To Next Level With Moving Gesture
CBS4’s David Sutta asked, “And so the natural question is what was Miami thinking at the time?”
“Well the documentation is from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Environmental regulation didn’t come into play until the late 1960’s and 1970’s,” said Bravo,
The city is now getting a history lesson on its parks, digging up old photos and documents to determine what they used to be. So far, they have evaluated about half of the 114 parks.
“Unless you physically ingest the soil there really no other point of contact. You can’t breathe it in. You can’t absorb it through your skin,” said Bravo.
The fix to the problem is to drop two feet of clean soil on top.
Merrie Christmas may be harder to fix since the massive banyan trees that line Lejeune are a hotbed of dangerous chemicals.
Local residents are weary of anything the city is doing.
“When it was the citizenry breathing in the fumes from Old Smokey they didn’t care. Only when Coral Gables sued, then they took it away. So can we trust that people are acting in our best interest now,” said Jihad Rashid, Acting President of Coconut Grove Village West.MORE NEWS: 2 Diners Injured In Partial Deck Collapse At Fort Lauderdale Waterfront Eatery
The city of Miami couldn’t tell CBS4 when they plan to reopen the parks. Their best guess is sometime next summer, but they still have to figure out how to pay for everything and remember they are still finding contaminated parks.