Coral Gables

Soil contamination

Miami-Dade closes baseball fields at Chapman Field near Coral Gables

Miami-Dade County park officials closed baseball fields at a sprawling park near Coral Gables Wednesday after finding high levels of arsenic in soil.

Recent tests at Chapman Field at 13601 Deering Bay Dr. turned up higher than normal levels of the toxic metal, a brief statement said. The park was closed “out of an abundance of caution,” the statement said. Neither county park nor environmental officials could be reached for comment. Test results, typically listed on the county’s environmental web site, could not be found.

The closing follows a string of Miami park closings over the last year triggered when residents began complaining about possible contamination from an old municipal incinerator in Coconut Grove’s historically black neighborhood. After finding soil contaminated with arsenic, barium and other toxic metals linked to incinerator ash at two parks, the county ordered the city to inspect all 112 of its parks. Eventually dirty soil was found at four more parks.

The county, meanwhile, had quietly started inspecting its own parks in 2011 after the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection discovered contamination at Olinda Park. Additional contamination was found at Brothers to the Rescue Park and Hammocks Community Park, which was closed just last month while workers replace tainted soil.

Chapman Park, a waterfront park that stretches across more than 560 acres just south of tony Gables by the Sea, is mostly covered by mangrove forest. In March, the county opened a new nine-acre dog park near the waterfront park’s canoe launch. The launch and dog park, along with walkways and parking, will remain open, the statement said.

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