LAMBERTVILLE: Park cleanup funds need council’s OK

City planning to replace soil at Cavallo Park this summer

By John Tredrea, Special Writer
Lambertville is moving toward committing more resources to Cavallo Park, which has been closed until contaminated soil near the surface has been removed and new construction in the park is complete.
On the agenda of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was the introduction of a proposed ordinance that, if adopted after a public hearing next month, would appropriate $510,000 for soil remediation and construction of the Mount Hope Street park, long a favorite of families with young children.
The park is expected to be closed for six months, the city officials have said.
In 2012, the city’s recreation commission began a review of the equipment and uses of Cavallo Park.
The commission applied to the state’s Green Acres agency for funding to help pay for park renovations and received a low-interest loan of $300,000.
As required by the Green Acres program and the DEP, investigations were conducted on the three areas of environmental concern in the park. That work was completed in August of last year.
The city then requested that the DEP, who owns the park and leases it to the city, conduct additional testing. The DEP did do, conducting an investigation in November of 2013 and presenting its findings a month ago.
Based on an agreement between the DEP and Lambertville, remedial action will involve the removal of the top 12-18 inches of material, and replacement of the material with certified clean fill. The cost of the work has been estimated at $310,000, with the city entitled to be reimbursed for 75 percent of it.
Megan Ruff, of the recreation commission, said the soil at the park was found to be minimally out of compliance with state standards on clean soil in residential areas.
"We want to be extra cautious," she said. "It’s a tot lot. The state feels the same way."
She said the land on which the park is located was used for industry into the 1950s. "It was filled in when industrial use ceased," she said.
Ms. Ruff said the city hopes to begin reconstruction of the park in late summer.
"The soil remediation process will have to be completed before we can start reconstruction," she said. "The new park will be an amazing project and a great addition to the city. There will be a bike path for toddlers around the perimeter of the park, new play equipment for children, benches, a pavilion, a fireplace and outdoor movies in the summer."
She advised families with young children to use Ely Park, on North Main Street, and the "pocket park" on Highland Avenue while Cavallo Park is closed.
Also on the agenda of Tuesday night’s meeting was a proposed resolution under which the city could continue to lease Cavallo Park from the DEP for 20 years, at $1 per year.
Reconstruction of the tin roof on the city’s library can be done if a $250,000 bond ordinance on the agenda of Tuesday night’s meeting was adopted as expected. The ordinance was introduced last month.