Teaneck Officials to Reopen Votee Park

State Health Department finds park soil contamination not expected to pose health risk.

Teaneck’s , which was , 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 .

Soil contamination found in the park was above state guidelines, however, state environmental . The township had already 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 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 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. 

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Jason Flynn April 19, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Jeff- people can always be negative and say everything is political. When we heard that something was abnormal in the soil at Votee Park, and our town manager and council not being professionals in that area, as a community, we would be in an uproar if the town did not first ensure protection of our citizens, especially our children and check to see what is going on over there. The town made the right decision - close it down and check to be sure it is safe for use. Once things were checked by certified, experienced professionals and the results were reviewed and discussed, our leaders, who are not professionals in this arena, relied on the professionals' studies, test and guidance, in addition to State and Federal standards to reopen the park. With the history of litigation in our town, anything outside of the actions taken by our leadership would have been inappropriate. It is sad how everyone tries to make everything negative, political and use it as "bait" for elections, jostling for positioning or a front. Our leaders have confirmed that the majority of the park is within govt. standards that permit use, so they took that information, which they did not have at the time of closing, and the town is now reopening the park. Go out and enjoy our Central Park and take a day off from making everything political. Looking forward to my family's first picnic, catch or ballgame there this Spring and Summer.
JeffO April 20, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Mr. Flynn, you'll notice that the long url I posted above, which I believe will work if you copy and paste it into your browser, starts with the word "campaign." This is how thee mayor decided to announce this development, which resulted from the efforts of quite a few people. And this isn't the only example of his wildly exaggerated election-season credit-taking. His campaign brochure claims, "I personally lobbied and brought Governor Christie to Teaneck, on behalf of the Teaneck Public Schools to revoke the virtual charter schools application, saving the Teaneck Public Schools a $15 Million budgeted line item." And you're concerned that others are making these things "bait" for elections?
Teaneck_Resident April 20, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Just an observation here. NJ State's letter clearly states "are not expected" that doesn't make me feel very comfortable at all. There is a very big difference between "are not expected" and "do not".
Barbara Ley Toffler April 21, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I believe "are not expected" is standard language for such a report. Likely no official would ever say "never" or "always" to anything! (and the rest of us shouldn't either!). The park is safe. As one of the scientists said -- if you use a dandruff shampoo you are exposed to considerably more benzo(a)pyrene each time you wash your hair than if you played in the park daily for an extended period of time. All grilled food contains benzo(a)pyrene and do many cosmetics and other products. as well, the scientists talked about the human body "uptake" of BaP (how and how much BaP does the human body absorb at any exposure).Please see Teaneck 2020.com website for full report and slides from the scientist April 4 presentation. Please also feel free to call me, 201-836-1374 if you have questions about the process the town has gone through or related issues.
John Santaella August 13, 2012 at 11:01 PM
When the soccer fields at Votee Park were built up twenty years ago they were 3 feet above the rest of the park. Before the fields could be used by our children to play soccer the soccer parents had to walk arm in arm across the length and breadth of the field to clean up large rocks and bricks that were in the so-called clean fill that was used to fill the field. The administration at the time was too lazy to inspect what it was paying for. It may have been ''clean fill'' as defined for construction fill but not for a playfield. Now the field has been lowered by over one foot. This is natural for a swamp, and that is what Votee Park is. It will continue to settle. It is not evenly settled either so what is to happen after it is covered with an artificial turf? It will continue to settle. Then what, lift the turf; refill and put the turf back? Turf is a waste of money. Fill it in as the need arises and re-seed. That will be infinitely cheaper than an artificial surface. On another note the town council and manager would have been remiss if they had not closed the park until the contamination problem could be assessed. But, to take credit for the re-opening of the park is just too much. JeffO and Tom Abbott you are spot on.


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