If you've stopped by our Leadership and Legacy campus at 22nd and Ralston recently, you probably wondered what in the world is going on: rather than after school programs, youth gardening activities, and lots of fun on the playground, it looks like a construction zone! Our old driveway has been removed, most of the land north of the buildings is completely torn up, the basketball goal is gone, and there is heavy machinery everywhere.
So what is happening here? Well, thanks to the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we are well on our way to removing the last of the lead-contaminated soil from our land. Like many properties in this area, our soil has unusually high levels of lead, due to a former lead smelting company located very nearby, and while we were able to occupy and utilize the building and parts of the property safely prior to this remediation, we are looking forward to having peace of mind that all of our land is now safe to use.
The EPA broke ground on this project on August 22nd, and they are now almost finished removing the polluted soil. They have been extremely careful to minimize any risks—by dampening the soil to prevent dust and spraying the dump truck tires as they leave to keep the soil from being tracked onto the streets. Beginning next week, the EPA will focus on putting everything back into place—from replacing the fencing, to repaving the driveway, to installing new sod. It has been a pleasure working with our EPA contact, Shelly Lam, who is the coordinator for our site. She has been happy to answer all of our questions and has been extremely helpful. We are excited to see the finished product, most likely at the end of next week! Thank you, Shelly, for everything you've done.
Another positive outcome from this project is a reinvigorated focus on other contaminated properties nearby. The EPA will begin additional remediation at 100 private residences on neighboring streets in late September, and they hosted a well-attended public meeting on Thursday, September 8th at Oasis of Hope Baptist Church to explain more about the remediation process and answer residents’ questions. We are happy to see our community become a healthier place, for people of all ages and particularly our youth.