Remediation plans come after high lead levels in LaSalle Park, community wants more

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SOUTH BEND, Ind., --- On Tuesday the city held a public meeting about remediation efforts and upgrades to LaSalle Park after the area tested high for lead levels. Although residents said they were glad action is being taken, they said they hope the city’s efforts for the area don’t just stop there.

The moves come after the area that was once used for a dumping ground back in the 1930’s tested for high levels of lead in the soil.

“We’ve always had a concern about contamination in this area from Bendix to hear on the lake side,” said Jorden Giger, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter, South Bend.

“You have mainly black people in one area that’s living on top of a toxic environment a dump, that has been ignored for a number of years,” added Second District Common Council Henry Davis Jr.

City leaders and community members said they’ve been calling for action at LaSalle Park for years.

On Tuesday, the city laid out its plan to remediate the area that tested for high lead levels back in 2016.

“The park does not pose any immediate risk but there is some lead underneath the surface that the EPA would like to see removed to make sure this is a safe park going into the future,” said South Bend Mayor James Mueller.

The agreement between the city, the environmental protection agency, and Honeywell calls for the removal of the contaminated soil in parts of the park to be replaced with new soil.

A move some believe is just step one to protecting neighbors.

“We need to find if there is a correlation to the exposure to these containments and health outcomes, if cancer is linked to this, ADHD,” explained Giger.

“It just didn’t stay here. We need to investigate what it looks like south, north, east, west of this environment,” added Davis Jr.

It’s why many in the city’s northwest side hope investment, doesn’t stop at remediation efforts.

“I'm looking forward to the development and more development and enrichment of this area,” said Gladys Muhammad a long-time resident on the city’s the Westside.

“We deserve a lot more than a basketball court; we deserve a lot more than just a public hearing and a report. We deserve investment in this area. We deserve to be treated like first class citizens,” said Davis Jr.

Officials will also be conducting health consultations to determine people's lead exposure in the area.

The city expects all remediation to be complete by this fall.

After the work is done, there are plans to upgrade the park, which they hope to get the community involved in.

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