PLANT CITY – A popular city park that was a garbage dump decades ago will close until mid to late summer for work that will ensure the trash buried below will never pose a hazard.
Snowden Park will close starting in late March or early April so crews can demolish park buildings and bring in truckloads of clean soil. The crews will spread a two-foot deep layer of the soil to essentially seal any remnants of buried garbage and rebuild park amenities.
The park is expected to re-open in mid to late summer, although city Community Services Director Karen Collins is hoping work is completed early.
The city will use $600,000 from a federal block grant program to pay for the project at the park at 902 Waller St.
The park opened around 1960 at a location where nearby residents – and perhaps the city – dumped or burned garbage, Collins said. The city likely tried to clean up the more than 7 acres before the park opened but some of the garbage was left behind, she said.
The buried trash was rediscovered recently when crews installing trees uncovered broken glass, City Manager Greg Horwedel said. Further excavation uncovered more buried trash, and while no one has been reported injured by the refuse that had been buried there, city officials didn't want to take a chance, he said.
Removing the buried trash would have been too expensive so officials came up with the plan to encapsulate the property in clean soil, Collins said.
The park includes two baseball fields, basketball court, picnic pavilions and a playground. With the exception of one or more pavilions and some ballfield lighting that might be saved, all the amenities will have to be replaced, Collins said.
The playground and baseball dugouts were slated for replacement anyway, she added. In the end, the neighborhood will have a virtually rebuilt, better park, she said.
If there's enough money, the city hopes to add lighting for the entire park, Collins added.
The work won't affect a walking trail around the perimeter of the park.