Some Miami-Dade County residents are outraged their children have been playing on a ball field contaminated with arsenic. 7’s Andrew Scheinthal tells us they want to know who’s responsible for this “Poison Park?”
On most days, you can find Ellen Mitchell surrounded by her grandkids.
Ellen Mitchell: “You guys wanna go to the park for a little bit?”
If they are not running errands, they’re at Devon Aire Park playing ball.
She has lived near the park, at Killian Parkway and Southwest 122nd Avenue, since 1977.
Ellen Mitchell: “My two sons went to Devon Aire Elementary, and now I have three of my six grandkids going there.”
So when the county announced they were holding a meeting about an important issue at Devon Aire Park, Ellen went.
Ellen Mitchell: “They said they’ve been working on arsenic testing for two years now.”
Ellen was shocked to find out the county knew for two years there was arsenic in the park.
Ellen Mitchell: “They said they sent out a postcard to the whole neighborhood. No one, I haven’t found one person who received a postcard about the meeting.”
Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava says even she was just recently told about the test results and organized the meeting.
Daniella Levine Cava, District 8 Commissioner: “As soon as I heard about it, I insisted that we hold a community meeting and made sure that area of residence would know about it.”
Arsenic is a natural mineral found in the ground, but it can be deadly if ingested in high levels.
Miami-Dade County began testing parks for arsenic in 2011. Some had levels so high, the county shut them down.
Parkgoer: “Makes me feel kind of sad, because I always used to come here and play baseball with my friends.”
In the case of Devon Aire, the arsenic level was below the health risk standard.
Wilbur Mayorga, Miami-Dade County: “The data clearly indicates that the impacts are only within the baseball field.”
The county says the contamination likely came from pesticide spraying. Area residents say they want to know when the county will make this park safe for children.
Ellen Mitchell: “Can anybody guarantee us that this isn’t gonna hurt the children? And they can’t, they can’t.”
The county originally told residents they didn’t have the money to fix the arsenic problem, but since 7News started investigating, the county has now found the money.
Daniella Levine Cava: “The remediation will start in the hot spots, the areas that have the highest concentration.”
Parents here say they hope the park is fixed before August, when kids return to Devon Aire K-8 Center, which uses the park for recess and physical education classes.