Mabel Davis Site Visit

Mabel Davis ParkThe City of Austin was gracious enough to have a public site visit to view the remediation in progress of our neighborhood park, Mabel Davis. The family and I headed over there last night to check things out. There were representatives from the city and the contractors responsible for the cleanup work. I estimate that there were about 10-15 people from the neighborhood and 5-10 city staffers and contractors at the visit. I expected a few more people. The contractor said that they’ve had to turn people away from the pool, which is closed for the summer because of the remediation and they’ve turned away skateboarders looking for the not yet constructed skate park.

I’ve posted photos from the visit as a Flickr set. Those interested in keeping up with the progress and any new information on the park remediation should check out the Yahoo Group. On a related note, there’s also a group focused on the Country Club Creek Trail, which would connect Mabel Davis with Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park.

A quick history, the park was built on a landfill that over the years had things like pesticides and car batteries (lead) dumped into it. The park has a large spring-fed pond at the southern end whose run-off created a creek through the park, ending at the Newell pond near Linder elementary. As time went on, the creek started cutting into the old landfill, exposing some of the nasty stuff. The park was heavily wooded, but, because of the landfill, most of the trees were poorly rooted and simply contributed to the erosion of the landfill and seepage of ground water into the landfill. I heard speculation tha the pesticide may have come from a chemical company that was located on Town Lake in the 60’s and was responsible for a large fish kill at one point as well.

The cleanup or “remediation” as they like to call it includes putting an impermeable clay cap and roughly 12-18″ of soil over the landfill to prevent erosion. They’re also recreating the creek, lining it with some sort of tarping to prevent erosion and adding water breaks to slow run-off. The park was heavily wooded, but most of the area over the landfill has been completely cleared of trees and vegetation. The people responsible for the cleanup are trying to put a good face on a bad situation, but the fact is that the area over the landfill will never be able to grow trees. There’s still a decent amount of coverage to buffer the park from my neighborhood to the east, which you can see in the photos. I don’t back right onto the park, but I haven’t noticed much noise pollution from the cleanup.

Since discovery of the lead and pesticide contamination, the park has been closed. It’s now going on 4-5 years since that closing, if I’m not mistaken. My son was a toddler the last time he was able to use the playground. He’s now going into First Grade.

The remediation is about 50% complete at this point. They’re projecting an October completion date, but that’s weather dependent. There will probably be another site visit before the completion of the remediation.

3 Comments so far

  1. David Ellis (unregistered) on June 28th, 2005 @ 12:56 pm

    It’s too bad no one from the parks Department was there. Once the remediation is done they will be the ones in charge of the park and at this stage they should have plans fully developed and in place for what they intend to do with it (in terms of amenities, jogging trails, etc…)

  2. ttrentham (unregistered) on June 28th, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

    I may have missed something along the way, but I doubt that the Austin PARD is doing much outside of the skatepark without prodding from the neighborhood.

    I’ve seen Stuart Strong’s name attached to the skatepark and I think there were some e-mails traded a while ago about other things that might be added after the remediation. Now’s probably the time to start pressuring again. Has anyone already begun this process? We may also want to see how we can coordinate with the CCC Trail people as well.

  3. ttrentham (unregistered) on June 29th, 2005 @ 5:29 pm

    I should’ve direct linked the city’s cleanup page as well. It’s somewhat out of date.

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