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Heron Park opens to public

By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer

After months of work following chemical accident, all’s well

(Feb. 13, 2020) It’s official: after being closed for five months and nearly nine months of cleanup, Heron Park is again open for public use, after a motion by Berlin Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood was approved by the mayor and Town Council on Monday.

By Morgan Pilz
Heron Park is officially open for public use after a motion was approved by the Berlin mayor and Town Council on Monday. The park will be seeded in March and town employees expect to see grass by May or June.

“For the last probably six weeks or so, there’s been a significant amount of work accomplished by town staff,” Fleetwood said. “I want to publicly recognize Jamey Latchum and Tim Lawrence … everyone contributed. Lots of employee involvement, what I can tell mayor and council is it looks like it never happened.”

Nine months ago, an undisclosed amount of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda or lye) was spilled in June during demolition work by a contractor.

Chesapeake Environmental Services handled the bulk of the clean-up for $283,000. Other work was done by town workers and contractors at a cost of about $3,000 rather than the $50,000-$60,000 quoted by other companies.

“Again, I want to reiterate … there are no chemicals on site, they’re gone,” Fleetwood said.

All five council members voted to have the park reopened on Tuesday.

Some work remains to be done. The Maryland Department of the Environment will evaluate the groundwater under the area where the spill occurred. The testing, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 19, will involve drilling three wells about 15 feet deep near the original spill site.

There will be a field test the day of the drilling, and results are expected to come back that day. If there are levels of any of the spill left over, the other perimeter wells will be tested as well.

After the groundwater tests are conducted, grass will need to be planted on the areas that have been cleared. The ground is extremely muddy after tons of dirt was put back into the ground.