Trees being planted in Detroit Park to remove soil contaminants, neighbors have health concerns

(WXYZ) - Hundreds of trees being planted in a Southwest Detroit park is unearthing new concerns for nearby residents. 

They are worried their health may be at risk, and nobody is telling them.

Bridgeview Park in Southwest Detroit is getting a makeover. The swings will be coming down and the monkey bars removed, it's not for looks, but because the soil underneath isn't safe.

The land is owned by the Detroit Public School district, and used to be home to Jeffries Elementary school. 

It was torn down years ago. A couple of weeks ago, workers with the non-profit group Greening of Detroit started planting trees. Lots of trees. It's a way to try and remove contaminants from the soil. 

Neighbors began to worry when they spotted workers in protective gear while the were doing work on the lot. They say nobody has ever informed them of the possible danger. 

The park sat open and swings and grills remained on the grounds. Neighbors believe when the school district realized the soil was contaminated, more should have been done to inform them of any possible health risk.  They would also like some of the funding for the project to be used to test the soil at their homes. 

A spokesperson for the Detroit Public school district did not answer questions regarding neighbors concerns about the health risk. However, they did release the following statement.

The Greening of Detroit is currently negotiating with the District with an intent to engage in an 8-10 year lease of this property.

The District has allowed the Greening of Detroit access to the property through an agreement to begin a project of immediate benefit to the neighborhood and the neighboring residents. 

Their project calls for Phytoremediation, a method of planting trees to reduce soil contamination over time.

The District had previously secured the property with fencing to prevent trespassing. Based on residents' concerns, we have asked Greening of Detroit to re-secure the fence and place a sign on the property to inform neighbors of the project.

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