A vote Thursday morning means a one-time family ballpark could soon be restored to its old luster. Cascades Park sits in the shadow of the Capitol. Contaminated with coal tar from a gasification plant, it has been fenced off and off-limits for more than a decade.
Colleen Castille, DEP secretary, says, "The coal tar is on site and that is what will be cleaned up. It poses minimal risk."
Thursday morning, the governor and Cabinet okayed a deal which transfers ownership of the park, all 12.7 acres, from the state to the City of Tallahassee and gives the city half a million dollars to begin the cleanup.
Cleaning up this park will cost more than $5 million. Under this deal, the city will pick up the bulk of the tab, about 86 percent, and the state will pick up the rest.
"They're going to have to haul away a lot of dirt to a safe place and then we're going to have to put a lot of dirt back in to refill the area and then we'll restore it to a park like state in the next two years," says Mayor John Marks.
Many Tallahassee families remember coming to watch ball games here. Teresa Brown remembers. She walks by the park everyday and would love to see it restored.
"A lot of state employees work, walk on the lunch hour and break times and a walking path in the park would be nice," says Brown.
In addition to the $500,000 promised Thursday, there's another $1.5 million in this year's proposed budget. Thursday's deal helps the city and state avoid a costly lawsuit from the feds and avoids having Cascades Park branded a "superfund" cleanup site.
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