Fearing residents could be exposed to unsafe levels of lead, a park in Commerce has been closed until the city can assess the impact recent heavy rains have had on the facility.
When Veterans Park will reopen is unclear. The park was closed Feb. 17 amid concerns that lead and asbestos may have spread from the park’s community center during the latest series of storms. City officials said the facility would remain closed “until further notice.”
The park’s playground and picnic areas have been already tested and “show lead levels to be within acceptable thresholds,” according to a city statement.
The baseball field was also recently tested but those results are not expected to be available for a few more days.
The industrial city is no stranger to fears over lead. Portions of the city are within the 1.7-mile radius that is currently being tested for lead contamination by the nearby Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon.
Veterans Park on Zindell Avenue, however, is outside the Exide impact zone, and the lead there is from the now closed James W. Bristow Marksmanship Range.
The decades-old shooting range was closed and sealed-off in 2010 when it was learned that lead from bullets fired there had made its way to nearby areas, putting people at risk of lead exposure.
It was not until last year, however, that the city council authorized the full demolition and abatement of the shooting range, located inside the Veterans Park community center, the same location where a variety of other programs and recreational activities are housed.
The remediation process has been underway since January and the city says contractors are now in the process of removing paint chips from the building’s exterior and sealing its facades.
The city said the park will stay closed at it evaluates the impact of recent rain and progress of the cleanup. Nearby residential yards will also be tested, according to the city.
In the meantime, youth basketball gamed has been relocated to different parks, a cross fit class has been moved to Rosewood Park and a pre-school program has been moved to Bristow Park. The city is also in the process of securing temporary bungalows to house some park services and activities once testing is complete.