Merrie Christmas Park in Coconut Grove Closed After Contaminated Soil, Evidence of Solid Waste Found: City of Miami

A Coconut Grove park has been closed after contaminated soil and evidence of solid waste were found in samples, City of Miami officials said.

Merrie Christmas Park at South LeJeune Road and Barbarrosa Avenue has been closed until further sampling can be performed and necessary actions are identified, city spokesman Angel Zayon said in a statement Tuesday.

An early sample also identified contaminated soil at Blanche Park at Shipping Avenue and Virginia Street. That playground has also been closed – and the city says it's ordered tests at all its parks.

Crews brought spools of fences to Merrie Christmas Park Wednesday. The popular park sits within a one-mile radius of what used to be the site of a city incinerator.

"This particular park came back with the appearance of what I call remnant ash, or residual ash, from what appears to be incinerated residue,” City Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff told NBC 6. ”And we're having that tested for chemical analysis.”

The city is working with Miami-Dade County's Department of Environmental Resource Management to perform an area-wide sampling and developing plans to permanently remedy the issue.

"The City of Miami is working with other agencies to do whatever is needed to guarantee the safety of our residents and park visitors," Mayor Tomas Regalado said in the statement.

Eunice Salasuarez, who has brought her children to Merrie Christmas Park many times, will have to find somewhere else to go while it’s closed.

"I'm concerned (about) what could make the kids sick, because the kids do play around a lot of the areas where there's not grass by the swings and stuff, where the kids do get really dirty,” she said.

Several other area parks and schools have been tested and samples didn't reveal similar concerns, Zayon said.

"What is broken we will fix. Our primary concern now is to swiftly gather the information necessary to make sound decisions for safeguarding the health and safety of our community and visitors to the park," Sarnoff said.

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