It turns out that it’s a very bad idea to build parks where kids play on top of toxic waste dumps, and the City of Greensboro has been learning that lesson the hard way after a park built in the 1970s was unknowingly put on top of such a dump that existed decades earlier.

On Thursday, April 11, the City of Greensboro provided an update on the situation of Bingham Park, roughly 12-acres of land at 500 Bingham St. in Greensboro bordering South English Street.

The park is now completely closed after city officials weighed their options regarding remediation possibilities and after they learned new information about the health threats presented.

The status update put out by the city stated that new guidance from the US Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to a new risk management review, led the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department to close Bingham Park and put up signs to that effect in and around the park.

The city is also planning to take additional steps to keep people off the land that sits on a former toxic waste dump. The City of Greensboro is currently buying fencing to completely cut off access to the area.

“Bingham Park is the site of a pre-regulatory landfill and household waste incinerator,” the city’s statement reads. “The City of Greensboro is working with the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to evaluate and remediate the site. The DEQ informed Parks and Recreation of the change to federal soil screening level for lead in soil at residential properties in April following the closure of an EPA public comment period lasting from January through March.”

Previously, state environmental officials had advised Greensboro staff to put up signs instructing park goers that they shouldn’t wade in the stream or dig up the soil, “or eat the soil,” since those who did so might be exposing themselves to arsenic, iron, manganese, lead, semi-volatile organic compounds and a few other things that aren’t exactly good for humans.

The park had been open for walking; but all amenities had already been closed.                          Soon a fence will surround the park in an extra effort to keep people out.

According to city officials, nearly $20 million in federal and state money is likely to be made available for the city’s remediation efforts.

The April 11 park update adds, “The City will continue to work with residents to share information about park cleanup options, which will involve the development and implementation of a remediation action plan. Through this project, all contaminated soil within the park and at the former Hampton School site will be removed and placed in a permitted municipal solid waste landfill, which can accept this type of waste.”

City leaders also stated that Greensboro Parks and Recreation planners are already working with neighbors to develop a new park plan that includes future attractions and amenities.