Funding to remediate areas of Greensboro has landed with the passage of North Carolina’s budget in mid-September — albeit months past its July 1 goal.
Greensboro city officials were updated on state legislation movement from McGuireWoods’ government relations group during an Oct. 26 work session, where they learned that the state’s budget includes $11 million designated for remediation projects at Bingham Park and various sites downtown.
Situated on top of a pre-regulatory landfill in District 1, Bingham Park is an integral part of three neighborhoods: Eastside Park, Willow Oaks, and Cottage Grove. There was an incinerator on site that burned household waste from Guilford County and the US Military. In tandem with the community, the city started planning efforts to redesign and improve the park in the late 2000s. These plans were stopped short in 2010 when the NC Department of Environmental Quality, or NCDEQ, designated the site as an inactive hazardous waste/pre-regulatory landfill, requiring remediation prior to the completion of park improvements. After an investigation in 2022, NCDEQ stated that park users shouldn’t drink water from or wade in the stream, or dig in or eat the soil as it could put them at risk for “exposure to arsenic, iron, manganese, lead and semi-volatile organic compounds,” the city’s website notes.
“It’s pretty stark when you go out to that site and you see the signs, ‘Stay Out Of The Water,’ that it’s contaminated, and “Don’t Play Here,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said.
“Without a doubt, we have a commitment to cleaning Bingham Park,” Vaughan continued.
But the cost of remediating Bingham Park is estimated to be around three times the amount offered by the state — $11 million wouldn’t foot the entire bill.
“Can I take all [$]11[million]?” District 1 Councilmember Sharon Hightower joked.
City Manager Taiwo Jaiyeoba said that the funding would likely be split, with $6 million going toward Bingham Park and $5 million to downtown. Jaiyeoba added that they had originally asked for $30 million for the park and $20 million for downtown sites.
That’s “because Bingham is one site, downtown is multiple sites,” he said, listing the former News & Record building and Lidl site among potential sites for remediation.
“I know you want all $11 million,” Jaiyeoba told Hightower, but added that he was “also sure” that Councilmember Zack Matheny wants “all $11 million” as well. Matheny represents District 3 which covers much of the city’s downtown.
Jaiyeoba said that one of the questions lobbyists asked them — but they were never really able to answer — was the locations of the sites that needed remediation and specifics on how much they would cost.
“But we had nothing on that, so we just ballparked… $20 million,” he said.
The state’s budget also includes $61 million to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in drinking water statewide. PFAS were discovered in the city’s reservoirs and drinking water in 2014. Since then, the city has been working to remove PFAS from its drinking water.
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