High Toxicity Levels Turn Ultra Music Festival Grounds Into Poison Park
Miami’s Bayfront Park has long been the home of the iconic Ultra Music Festival, first from 2001 to 2005, and again from 2012 to 2015. After a 2014 survey of Miami’s 112 city parks, Ultra Music Festival may have to find a new home. The survey concluded that Bayfront Park sat on a topsoil that was heavily contaminated by lead, arsenic and other toxins, turning the festival grounds into a “poison park.”
The contamination at Bayfront Park wasn’t discovered until 2014, but that doesn’t mean that the source of the issue was in the last few years. The contamination can date back as far as 1925, when Bayfront Park was created by pumping mud from the bottom of the Biscayne Bay, or the 1980s, when a landscaping redesign may have brought the contaminated soil to downtown Miami. Regardless of the source, Bayfront Park is not the only Miami park to be contaminated with these toxins, as Blanche Park, Merrie Christmas Park and many others have, as well.
The process of cleaning up the contaminated soil has already begun, but costs are high costs. As a result, there has been contention between Miami-Dade environmental regulators, the City of Miami, and the Bayfront Park Management Trust about the cost effectiveness, and subsequent value, of removing the contaminated soil. The price of cleaning up Bayfront Park would range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, upwards to over a million, as estimated by SCS Engineers, with the most effective method being removing the entire layer of dirt, a process that would take over 18 months and cost over $1.2 million at Merrie Christmas Park.
The Bayfront Park Management Trust, the entity tasked with all things Bayfront Park related, has said that they have neither the funds, nor the time to conduct a proper cleanup of the park before Ultra Music Festival in 2016, especially without help from the city of Miami. Some board members even believe that the level of contamination is not high enough to pose any serious harm. Trust member Nathan Kurland told the Miami Herald, “You would have to literally ingest the dirt to get sick. I want the park to be a safe place for people to be. But we’d like to see some kind of sanity involved in this.”
Ultimately, city officials decided that a cleanup of Bayfront Park was necessary, so they are now contracting consultants to draft up a strategy. With Ultra Music Festival only ten months away, cleanup of Bayfront Park must go smoothly, or else the iconic music festival may have to find another home.