Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Times – News Roundup

Clearwater plans to cover ash-filled dump site Phillip Jones Park

CLEARWATER — The Greenwood Panthers haven't scheduled a true home football game in three years.

Their turf at Phillip Jones Park closed when city officials determined the field sat on top of an old dump site filled with ash.

That's not hazardous, the city says, but the state has procedures for properly capping the site.

"It's not anything that's going to environmentally kill you," said Ed Chesney, environmental manager for the city of Clearwater, "but you don't want to be playing on it."

The city recently approved setting aside $822,000 to top the site with 2 feet of clean sand and renovate the park. The project requires collaboration with the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Southwest Florida Water Management District, with a targeted completion in time for next year's football season.

The history of Phillip Jones Park dates back more than a half-century, Chesney said. It sat next to a solid waste treatment plant. During the 1940s and 1950s, the once low-lying area along a creek was filled with ash, likely from a nearby incinerator, to make it usable land.

"It was done all over the state, all over the country," Chesney said.

Because records don't exist, the city doesn't really know who filled the land or what went into it. In that time, though, Chesney said, burned trash consisted mostly of paper and wood. It wasn't until later that plastics started appearing more and sometimes broke down into harmful byproducts.

"If there's a silver lining," Chesney said, "it's that the ash was old ash, not newer ash."

Pinellas County Schools owned the land at 1190 Russell St. and gave it to the city in 1949, Chesney said. It became a park, and for decades children played football there.

Ten years ago, the city followed up on community rumors and started investigating the soil under the field. Officials found bits of glass and tile and eventually realized the field appeared to be an old ash-filled site. Two years ago, the city voluntarily closed the field as a precautionary measure, Chesney said.

The city tested for contaminants and gases, finding some metals in the ground but no gases: "Nothing hazardous that would raise real concerns," he said. "Nobody has been hurt or made any claims against the field."

State guidelines call for the city to "seal" the site. Instead of digging up all the ash, the city plans to use a cheaper option of adding clean fill above it.

Parks are a common way to reuse former landfill sites, Chesney said, citing the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex on Drew Street — formerly a garbage dump — as a similar case.

The youth football and cheerleading program that practiced at Phillip Jones hasn't experienced any safety or health issues with the field, said Greenwood Panthers president Joe Marshall.

But its closure has forced the Panthers to scramble for places to practice. They can't host games, which has caused some problems during playoffs, Marshall said.

"It's definitely an inconvenience," he said.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or [email protected]

Comments
When you think you’ve got Brayden Point figured out, a surprise awaits

When you think you’ve got Brayden Point figured out, a surprise awaits

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Center Brayden Point is the Lightning’s calmest player, both on the ice and off, according to Victor Hedman.Point’s soft-spoken nature belies his baby face and 5-foot-10 frame. "I’ve never seen him angry before," Hedman said.That ma...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
How to optimize your college football bowl-watching experience

How to optimize your college football bowl-watching experience

Game-day guide to watching bowl games over the next few weeks: Five locals to watch Toledo WR Diontae Johnson (Lennard High): Only two players in the country average more yards per touch than Johnson (19.1), who could light up Appalachian State in ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top 5 at Noon: Struggle, taxpayer subsidies continue at Tampa golf courses; Why the Bucs need a Dungy, not a Gruden; Submit your Festivus grievance

Top 5 at Noon: Struggle, taxpayer subsidies continue at Tampa golf courses; Why the Bucs need a Dungy, not a Gruden; Submit your Festivus grievance

Here are the top stories on Tampabay.com today. THE STRUGGLE, AND TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES, CONTINUE FOR TAMPA GOLF COURSES Tampa's golf courses are often a bargain in terms of cost versus quality, but for taxpayers, golf has become more expensive due to...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Festivus 2017: Submit your grievances and complaints here

Festivus 2017: Submit your grievances and complaints here

Here's your chance. Tell us what annoyed you in 2017, and we'll share it with our readers.
Updated: 2 hours ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Let’s revisit Monday night games in Bucs’ past

Cannon Fodder podcast: Let’s revisit Monday night games in Bucs’ past

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman has injury updates on Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and a nostalgic trip through the Bucs’ history on Monday night, including the current three-game win streak and yes, that infamous 2003 Colts game where the Bucs were u...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay girls swim teams

Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay girls swim teams

Hillsborough County Swimmer of the Year: Morgan Tankersley, Sr., PlantTankersley defended her state title in the 500 free (4:44.75) and placed second in one of the country’s fastest 200 free races in 1:46.75, 2.07 seconds behind Buchholz junior Isa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

SEMINOLE — It was hard for the second-graders at Orange Grove Elementary to resist the urge to rush into the school’s science lab and tinker with the colorful objects neatly arranged on each table.Thursday was just their second time in the lab this y...
Updated: 3 hours ago