East Harlem Park Tests Positive For Lead
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Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem is closed, not because of the ice or bitter cold, but due to toxins that could be a danger to children.
“I have a one-year-old son and I bring him here to run around the field sometimes playing games, and it’s toxic and falling apart, how hard would it be to fix it and plant real grass for that matter,” said William Schumacher, a concerned parent.
After Jefferson Park tested positive for lead, the city decided to test all 98 fields with artificial turf, but it wasn't without some convincing.
“It's encouraging to hear the city's going to take the steps to evaluate these fields, we've been asking for this for a year and a half,” said Albert Huang, National Resource Defense Council.
The National Resource Defense Council wasn't the only group pushing the city to test the turf for lead and other toxins. The New York City Park Advocates and Public Advocate Betsey Gotbaum said they've been asking the city to stop pouring artificial turf for years.
“The city has invested over $150 million installing a product that they never bothered to test which is outrageous,” said Geoffrey Croft, New York City Park Advocates.
“It's disappointing to think that people didn't check that before hand, what are they thinking?” asked one resident.
The city's turf fields are iced up so if there is lead children most likely won't get exposed to it, but some New Yorkers are worried about what their children may have already been exposed too.
“It’s an awful thing, kids have been playing on it, falling down on it and breathing it in,” said one resident.
With Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn on the list for testing, community members are hoping their park doesn't end up like Jefferson in East Harlem.
“I hope it doesn't apply to here because this is an important piece of property for the neighborhood for local kids, and all people who like to play soccer or baseball, it’s part of the community,” said Brooklyn resident Steve Brownstein.
The Parks Department said it has tested all the parks that used turf from the same supplier as Jefferson Park. So far, they have all come up negative for lead, so investigators don't know where the lead at Jefferson came from. Still, the department said it will test all the artificial turf parks in the city as a precaution.
Queens Councilman Eric Gioia wants to go further.
Gioia said he wants to see a hold put on installing any new artificial turf. He currently has a bill on the table calling for a six month moratorium.