$350K to re­move heavy met­als from park

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - LEN GIL­LIS

The cost of clean­ing up the Hollinger Park fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of heavy metal con­tam­i­nants there last year is ex­pected to cost the city a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money — per­haps as much as $350,000.

That was re­vealed this week as city coun­cil was in the process of re­view­ing var­i­ous city bud­gets for day-to-day op­er­a­tions and also for cap­i­tal spend­ing.

Mark Jensen, the city’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity and de­vel­op­ment ser­vices, ad­vised coun­cil that a mit­i­ga­tion plan is in the works to re­place the top­soil at Hollinger Park with new clean soil.

It was last May that the city re­vealed that the top­soil in Hollinger Park con­tained high­erthan-nor­mal lev­els of heavy met­als such as ar­senic, an­ti­mony and lead in most ar­eas of the park and the ad­join­ing fenced area of Fred Sal­vador Field.

Hollinger Park was at one time a lake that was in­filled by tail­ings from the Hollinger Mine in the 1910s and 1920s. It’s be­lieved that’s the source of the heavy met­als or con­tam­i­nants in the soil.

Jensen told coun­cil he had bud­geted $350,000 for the clean-up, or mit­i­ga­tion, of the soil at the park, which he said, would be the pri­or­ity once spring ar­rives.

Coun. Pat Bam­ford ex­pressed con­cern that the clean-up might see the re­moval of all the large trees at the park. That con­cern was not ver­i­fied by city of­fi­cials.

“We will pro­ceed now with the pre­lim­i­nary grad­ing and drainage plan just to make sure it works with the fill that is go­ing to be placed into the park, as well as putting the fill in as re­quired for the stag­ing area to sup­port the con­cert event,” he said.

“Hollinger Park, the fa­cil­ity is ob­vi­ously a big chal­lenge for us right now,” Jensen told coun­cil.

With that be­ing said, Jensen also re­vealed he is rec­om­mend­ing no fur­ther work or up­grades be done at this time other than the soil re­place­ment. He said that will likely in­clude do­ing no work this year on the Hollinger grand­stand, which needs re­pairs.

“We also have de­mands from the Stars and Thun­der con­cert event. We are look­ing at some site prep is­sues and the need for grand­stand re­pairs in short or­der,” said Jensen.

“And I am go­ing to be hon­est with you: Af­ter talk­ing with my main­te­nance crew, be­cause we are un­cer­tain of what’s go­ing on un­der­neath it un­til a proper en­gi­neer­ing re­view is done, we are not sure if we will be able to get that grand­stand in shape, pos­si­bly in shape in time for that con­cert. So we should be look­ing at some other op­tions.”

Jensen re­minded coun­cil that it was two years ago that his depart­ment rec­om­mended that up­grade and re­pair work should be done on the grand­stands. Coun­cil took no ac­tion. Noth­ing was done.

“These things come back and bite us some­times,” Jensen added.

He did how­ever sug­gest this would be a good time to look at a longer term study for a re-de­sign of the Hollinger Park. Jensen said be­cause of the sig­nif­i­cance of the park to the wider com­mu­nity, it would be fit­ting to look at a for­mal study.

Jensen made ref­er­ence to a $100,000 fund that was to be spent on the idea of cre­at­ing a per­ma­nent spe­cial events venue for the city. He sug­gested the money might be bet­ter spent on a proper study for the park.

“In­stead of just lay­ing down ma­te­rial and then hap­haz­ardly putting things in like ex­er­cise equip­ment, we do a proper de­sign re­view by a pro­fes­sional. I know coun­cil does not like us­ing con­sul­tants that much, but I am not a park de­signer and I think there would be value at spend­ing $100,000 to in­cor­po­rate the 2016 projects that have been de­ferred,” he said.

“Part of that could look at es­tab­lish­ing a por­tion of the Hollinger Park as a spe­cial-events site, a per­ma­nent lo­ca­tion,” said Jensen. “We can do it all at the same time through one process rather than chip­ping away at it ran­domly and maybe not be­ing happy with the end re­sult,” he added.

Jensen said that has prompted his depart­ment to con­sider putting off all re­pair or ren­o­va­tion work at the park, other than the soils mit­i­ga­tion, un­til 2018.

“We will pro­ceed now with the pre­lim­i­nary grad­ing and drainage plan just to make sure it works with the fill that is go­ing to be placed into the park, as well as putting the fill in as re­quired for the stag­ing area to sup­port the con­cert event,” he said.

Len Gilis/ Tim­mins Daily Press

The cost of the clean-up of con­tam­i­nated soils at the Hollinger Park is ex­pected to be close to $350,000. That’s how much money the city has bud­geted to get rid of the old soil and bring in new top­soil.

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