Fairfield parks and fields are closed after testing finds contaminated soil

Fairfield

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) – New tests came back this week showing contaminants in Gould Manor Park in Fairfield.

On August 20th, the town of Fairfield announced that soil testing at Gould Manor Park revealed arsenic and lead levels slightly above the regulated permissible level in the soil on both sides of the sidewalk, and detected levels of asbestos in pieces of shingle found in the same area.

The town has cordoned off the sidewalk on Holland Hill Road adjacent to Gould Manor Park until the area is remediated.

In a letter on Wednesday, the Town of Fairfield said that based on the Gould Manor Park test results, they have closed additional town parks until they can also be tested for contaminants:

  • All Burroughs Soccer Fields – Upper and Lower
  • Dougiello Softball Field
  • Oldfield Soccer Field
  • South Pine Creek Soccer Field
  • Sullivan Football Field
  • Town Hall Soccer Field
  • Lower Tunxis Hill Soccer/Baseball field

To see the full list of Fairfield locations being tested for contaminants, click here.

Three men were arrested for an alleged scheme to dump contaminated soil at the town public works yard.

On August 15th, environmental crews were drilling into the ground of Fairfield’s Gould Manor Park, looking for dangerous chemicals in the soil near the baseball fields and playgrounds.

“That’s the main concern is the kids that play out here,” said Fairfield resident Glenn Denice as he took his daily walk around the park.

The concern comes after a two-year investigation into the city’s public works yard, specifically a big pile of soil and other fill in the yard. In 2013, a company owned by Jason Julian was hired, under the direction of DPW supervisor Scott Bartlett, to get rid of that pile by 2016, but did they?

“They did not,” said Mike Tetreau (D) Fairfield First Selectman. “It grew two and a half times during that time period.”

He now knows what was causing the pile to grow. In 2016, the town had an environmental professional take a look and found lead and PCBs.

“She actually watched a Julian truck come in, dump the soil. Tested that soil, and two weeks later it came back as contaminated,” Tetreau explained. “So we immediately shut down the yard.”

Stuff from that pile had already been used on projects around town, however. One in particular was a new sidewalk in Gould Manor Park. They even saw what looked like bits of asbestos shingle on the ground.

“We had to test it to make sure it was asbestos shingle, and that’s what came back in this most recent test is that it is pieces of asbestos shingle,” Tetreau said.

According to court documents, police believe there may have been a conspiracy to commit environmental crimes between Julian, the contractor, and Bartlett, the DPW supervisor, with Bartlett getting kickbacks either directly to him, or through his son, who actually works for Julian.

Court documents quote witnesses saying Julian dumped demolition materials such as brick, concrete, tiles, electrical cables, and “asbestos-cement pipe.”

They say workers “…would crush the pipe and the dig deep holes on the Fairfield processing site and bury the crushed pipe containing asbestos.”

Police allege Julian and Bartlett ran the scheme, and DPW director Joe Michelangelo knew about it and helped cover it up.

While the investigation has revealed the conspiracy, residents are still feeling uneasy.

“I would hope that they get it fixed as soon as possible so I can feel safe continuing to bring my dog here,” said Fairfield resident Heather Andreucci, as she walked her 3 month-old puppy.

The town has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on testing and cleanup. The questions now – was the fill used in other parks?

“We want to look further into it. We need to look further into it,” Cleary said. “We need to explore where this fill was used, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The town is now suing Julian Enterprises for the cost of the cleanup. Julian is suing the town for defamation. The DPW director and supervisor are now on leave. The town has created a website to keep residents updated on the soil testing.

News 8 reached out to lawyers for the accused and did not hear back.

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