Make your home page

South side Indy park contaminated, residents shocked

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A south side Indianapolis park is found to have dangerous levels of arsenic and lead, according to a document obtained by News 8.  

Earlier this week, News 8 first reported about possible contamination at Sandorf Park, which had been scheduled to undergo a more than $500,000 upgrade. 

Even though the park is fenced off, wind or rain could move the contaminated soil closer to people’s homes or to a kindergarten through 8th grade Indianapolis Public School, SUPER School 19. Exposure to lead or arsenic could lead to heart or kidney disease, among other risks. 

Children are at risk especially for lead because there are really no safe levels for lead, said Dr. Carlton Waterhouse, an Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law professor, who used to work for the U.S. EPA.

The city of Indianapolis has a $3 million plan to clean up Sandorf Park, according to top officials. Test results showed no contamination at SUPER School 19. DPW also did testing along some homes whose backyards were against the park. 

However, about a dozen neighbors, parents, and school employees told News 8 they were not even notified about the contamination. In fact, they said News 8 was the first to tell them about the issue. 

Oh that’s scary because the mulch used to run off into the parking lot where we park, said Wanda Green, who added she’s not only a parent at SUPER School 19 but an employee, too. 

She said there was never a faculty meeting about the contamination findings. 

Meanwhile, the school’s principal, John McClure, said they sent letters home. 

I don’t remember seeing that letter, said Green. 

Several parents tell us they never got one.     

I think they probably overlooked it, said McClure, when asked if he thought some parents didn’t get the letter or if there was miscommunication. I think we’ve done some due diligence with our families.

We also went to the Department of Public Works, which ran the testing. Director Dan Parker said they met with neighborhood leadership last June while testing was being done. He said they did more once the results came in. 

Put a flyer on 1,000 homes. So we went door to door once we got the final testing done, said Parker. 

Every effort was made to get information in people’s hands.   

Only eight people attended that meeting, which was scheduled in December. It was for school parents and homeowners.  

Wanda Green was not one of the attendees. She got the notice and thought nothing of it. It was a flyer advertising the meeting as simply, PUBLIC MEETING: An Update on Sandorf Park.

I just thought it was going to be about the opening being later, said Green, about what she thought the meeting would have been about. 

She said given what she knows now, she would have gone. 

Dr. Waterhouse said the notice was too vague for people to know the purpose of the meeting.   

They wouldn’t necessarily know that there may be health risks associated with them or their children with the park, said Waterhouse

As more families and homeowners learn about Sandorf Park, they said they’re going to be careful and hope the city fixes it sooner rather than later.  

City leaders recommend if you have concerns about the Sandorf Park contaminants, reach out to the Marion County Health Department