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It’s back to the drawing board for designers from the Department of Parks and Recreation and City Councilman Steven Cohn. Plans for a new park in Midtown need to be refined after a community meeting Wednesday that revealed concerns about the future park’s amenities.
Community members gave their input Wednesday about the proposed neighborhood park site at 19th and Q streets, which sits on contaminated land.
Located across the light rail tracks from Safeway along T and S streets, the 0.9-acre plot of land was acquired by the city of Sacramento in 2008-2009 for approximately $2 million and the property remains gated off according to Mary Debeauvier, a principal planner with the Parks and Recreation Department..
“This particular neighborhood has been identified as needing a park for some time,” Debeauvier said. “We’re able with this site to provide a need in terms of providing an urban plaza in a developed neighborhood.”
According to Morgan Johnson, a Project Manager and consultant of ENGEO, a geotechnical and environmental consulting firm based in Rocklin, the future park site is classified as a “Brownfield,” a term used to describe inner city property contaminated because of past industrial usage.
Deemed a “Brownfield” for the level of contamination in the soil, the parks department was awarded a Brownfield grant from the Environmental Protection Agency in the amount of $200,000 to address soil remediation, according Johnson. Soil remediation is the process of handling contamination in soil so that land can be used for redevelopment.
Johnson told a crowd of approximately 30 that soil sample tests revealed there are elevated levels of arsenic and lead and somewhat lower concentrations of chromium and petroleum hydrocarbons that exceed regulatory thresholds of safety. The soil can be dangerous to human health if directly ingested or inhaled. Arsenic and lead are known carcinogens.
“We’re going to virtually remove the 1 foot (of soil) across the whole site.” Johnson said.
The 200 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be trucked to a class 1 landfill,designated for hazardous material, he explained.
The less-contaminated soil beneath the removed soil will be consolidated under a concrete hardscape so people will not be exposed to contaminants. Johnson said it unknown how thick the hardscape will be but ENGEO is working with Sacramento County Environmental Management, the State Regional Water Quality and the Department of Toxic Substances Control to determine the safety conditions of the future park site.
The parks department has only secured funds to deal with contaminated soil, according to Debeauvier. The cost for the design and the implementation of the park will not be covered by the EPA Brownfield grant.
“Despite how bad the state and local budgets are on operating, year to year, there are still bond funds and grants that are still available,” Cohn said. “The point is we don’t know where the money is coming from, but we don’t think it’s pie in the sky. It is within the realm of possibility to fund this in the next few years.”
Associate landscape architect from the Department of Parks and Recreation Tin-Wah Wong presented community members with two possible park concepts.
The first concept includes a formal plaza-style park with a walkway leading to a central water feature, temporary rotating pads to display permanent or temporary art, play structures for children, an oversize chessboard and a community garden with approximately 15 plots.
The second concept takes a more organic and nature-inspired theme. Colored concrete lily pads and a ribbon of blue paint representing water could be implemented on the plaza. The plan calls for interactive water misters with bird and heron figures misting water, native plants and interpretive signage for those plants could be included, a turf area for children’s play and a community garden.
“People just want a little bit of dirt. Even if it’s a small area, it could be the size of a banquet table. It’s just something (the community members) really want,” said resident Delphine Cathcart of her desire to see the site include a community garden.
The top concerns among community members was the lack of shade in the designs and other community members spoke of the lack of dog parks in Midtown.
According to Wong, the parks department did not implement the idea of a dog park in their initial designs because Sacramento County requires dog parks must be at least two acres.
Community members will have another opportunity to give further input on refined park plans at the historic City Hall hearing room Thursday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.