Poison Park? School board member takes action after arsenic finding

(WSVN) - A Miami-Dade County School Board member is taking action. She’s upset the county didn’t tell the board about arsenic contamination in a park used by students. And she only learned about the arsenic problem after watching a 7News investigation. 7’s Andrew Scheinthal has more on this “Poison Park?”

There are four areas that are closed off inside Miami-Dade’s Devon-Aire Park. Inside these areas, work has begun to get rid of dirt contaminated with arsenic.

Lubby Navarro, Miami-Dade School Board: “There is an area away from the area of the school that still needs remediating. To our knowledge, the area, the park is not going to be closed, but the work will continue.”

Last month, 7News reported that county officials knew the park was contaminated for several years.

It’s located at Southwest 122nd Avenue and Killian Parkway in the district represented by school board member Lubby Navarro. She says she had no idea of the problem.

Lubby Navarro: “Well, I want to thank Channel 7 for reporting the news, and that’s how I found out.”

Arsenic in the park is confined to the baseball fields, and the levels are below what’s considered to be harmful.

The county said it was planning on cleaning the area but didn’t have the money.

Soon after our story aired, the county did find money to do the work.

Wilbur Mayorga, Miami-Dade County: “To remove some amount of contaminative soil, about 12 inches, to implement a liner to create a clear demarcation between the remaining soil and the sub areas and the clean field that needs to be brought.”

Devon-Aire K-8 School uses the park for recess and other outdoor activities. That’s why Navarro says the county should have told her about the contamination.

Lubby Navarro: “I think that’s point one. The lack of notification really kind of shocked us, but immediately we went into the process to begin to find out what was happening.”

Navarro created a proposal, that passed at last week’s school board meeting, for the county to always tell the board whenever contamination is found at public parks used by schools.

Lubby Navarro: “I know the county and district staff are in the process of collaborating a new master agreement where we’ll oversee all this process.”

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces tells 7News they will discuss the cleanup progress with the Devon-Aire community in a meeting on Aug. 28.

You can see the results from the soil testing, and watch our past report by clicking here.

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