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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Just how what to do with the toxic soil at Miami’s Merrie Christmas Park will be the focus of a community meeting on Thursday at City Hall.

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Last weekend, dozens of residents who live around, and use, the park protested the city’s clean up plan which called for redistributing some of the toxic soil and then burying all of it under a new layer of top soil. The trouble is, they said, is that the toxic soil would still be there and spread to other areas of the park.

Residents said the plan could put their health and community at risk.

“You’re basically throwing your residents, your constituents, under the bus not only once but twice. You’re potentially ruining property value,” said Jose Rey.

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Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff agrees with the residents. He asked the City of Coral Gables to help pay the additional cost of removing the contaminated soil in the park, rather than just cover it up. The park is across the street from a Gables residential area.

Last Tuesday, the Coral Gables commission met to discuss the idea. Most said they liked the idea of the park being cleaned but didn’t want their taxpayer money to be a part of the clean up.

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Commissioner Vince Lago was the lone supporter of possibly kicking in on the project.

After some discussion, commissioners agreed with Lago that the Gables should help Miami in any way it can to get the county or federal government to help fund a more complete cleanup of the park. Sarnoff said the city has reached out to the county and the property appraiser’s office to see if there can be some flexibility in terms of tagging the surrounding homes as being near a contaminated site.  Lago said he would do the same.

The City of Miami said their proposal meets all government regulations and that removing all of the contaminated soil will be too expensive for taxpayers and it’s not the typical procedure the Department of Environmental Resources recommends.

Environmental consultants have told the city burying the contaminated soil under two feet of new, clean earth, will render it harmless to people in the park or to the water supply.

On Thursday Miami-Dade cleanup target levels will be discussed and there will be a presentation on the risk exposure to contamination by Dr. Richard Weisman of the University of Miami Miller School Medicine and Director of the Florida Poison Information Center.

Merrie Christmas Park was one of the six city parks closed due to high levels of toxic metals in the soil linked to ash from a now closed incinerator.

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