JERSEY CITY - Jersey City officials have closed Mary Benson Park on Merseles Street after the site tested positive for elevated levels of lead. Lead levels found at the park exceed state limits for residential areas, according to city officials. The closure will delay plans by parent and community groups to build a new playground at the park.
Jersey City's Department of Public Works (DPW) and Division of Architecture discovered the elevated lead levels as part of the preparation process for installing new equipment in the park.
According to DPW Director Rodney Hadley, the city will need to hire a Licensed Site Remediation Professional to plan an environmental clean up of the park. The City Council is this week expected to authorize the city to hire a remediation professional.
Two out of four environmental tests conducted at the park found that sub-soils there exceeded standards set by the New Jersey Residential Soil Remediation Standards for lead. These samples were taken by an independent geotechnical and environmental materials testing consultant and were taken in four distinct locations within the playground area.
"We are taking precautionary measures and will take the necessary steps to begin the remediation process," Hadley said. The city, he added, has notified the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Members of the City Council said Monday they would like to see the remediation completed by the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year since the Michael Conti School (PS No. 5) uses the park for recreation activities.
The park will be closed to the public until the environmental clean up has been completed, said Hadley.
The Conti PTA, the Village Neighborhood Association, and Fourth Street Arts have collectively been raising this money this year to make improvements to Mary Benson Park, including the addition of a new playground area for kids.
These renovations and improvements will now be delayed until after the remediation work has been completed and the park is reopened. -E. Assata Wright