Teaneck Officials to Reopen Votee Park
State Health Department finds park soil contamination not expected to pose health risk.
Teaneck’s Milton Votee Park, which was closed more than four months ago, will reopen Saturday after a state Health Department report concluded exposure to soil contamination in the park was not expected to pose a health risk, Township Manager William Broughton said Wednesday.
“Exposures to children and adults during recreational activities at the park are not expected to cause adverse non-cancer health effects,” a letter from the Department of Health and Senior Services, released by the township, said.
The state’s letter also said there was “no apparent increase” in a risk of cancer from contaminants discovered in the park.
Based on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, called PAHs, and arsenic contamination exposure in the park, the report found “…the [lifetime excess cancer risk] for both children and adults are approximately 4 in 100,000, which is considered a no apparent increase in cancer risk when compared to the excess background risk of all or specific cancers.”
The PAHs found in the surface soil were similar to those found elsewhere in New Jersey and other states, according to the report.
Exposure to high levels of lead found in a section of the park also was not expected to cause any public health risk, the report said.
Broughton said the area of the park where lead was found would remain fenced off and be remediated. The soccer field would also stay closed for an artificial turf project.
“Although there may be a need for a small amount of remediation in certain spots in the park, it is clear from the New Jersey State Department of Health and Senior Services that the park may be re-occupied,” Mayor Mohammed Hameddudin said in a statement. “Now that a more comprehensive study has been concluded, and the state agency in charge has declared that the park may be used for recreational purposes, the Manager has moved quickly to get our wonderful community resource back open.”
The state’s report, known as a Letter Health Consultation, evaluated January 2012 surface soil samples collected up to six inches underground for direct contact risks.
The town’s 40-acre park was ordered closed Dec. 14 when officials were alerted to elevated levels of benzo(a)pyrene and PCBs under Votee’s soccer field. The contamination was discovered in tests required as part of a project using state Green Acres funds to install artificial turf on the fields. More contamination was found after officials ordered additional testing.
Soil contamination found in the park was above state guidelines, however, state environmental officials had cautioned the standards were conservative. The township had already reopened portions of the park.
Although some residents have questioned why the park was not reopened sooner, officials maintained they were taking necessary precautions.
“The park was closed out of concern for the public’s safety until a more comprehensive study could be concluded,” the township’s release said.
The Department of Environmental Protection did not require the park’s closure, according to an April 12 e-mail from Kevin Schick, DEP’s chief of Environmental Evaluation and Risk Assessment.
“Exposure controls in some of the hot spot areas and a timely remediation of the contamination is strongly recommended,” Schick wrote in the e-mail, released by the township.
Broughton said the township council is forming an advisory board to recommend steps forward. The town’s largest developed park will be reopened early Saturday, after crews take down fencing.
The state's full report, released by the Township Manager, is attached to this article.