olinda park_web.jpg(Florida International University) – Access to parts of Olinda Park have been declared off-limits to the public after testing revealed high levels of arsenic and lead.

The contaminated portion of the 6.4-acre Miami-Dade County facility located at 2101 NW 51st St. likely will be closed for three to four weeks. Park officials say restrictions will remain as long as necessary.

“This could take longer than a month, but my best estimate is three to four weeks,” said Alex Munoz, deputy director at Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation. “However, we are willing to keep it closed as long as it needs to be to make it safe.”

It is not clear what prompted the initial testing last week by the county Department of Environmental Resources Management.

The cause and extent of the contamination are under investigation by the state Department of Health.

The cleanup cost also is not yet known.

Park officials said they acted immediately to protect the public.

“Within 24 hours of the findings, notices were posted within the park,” Munoz said. “We moved quickly to isolate and secure the areas to make it safe.”

The mostly grassy area contains a basketball court but officials said there’s minimal health risk to the public.

“The chance of this spreading or harming anyone is very unlikely,” said Luis Espinoza, communications manager at Department of Environmental Resource Management.

ES Consultants Inc., a Miami-based firm that specializes in environmental cleanups, has been hired by the Parks Department and is set to clean up the area.

This is not the first time contamination has been found in a Miami-Dade County park.

Ives Estate Park in Aventura was found to have been contaminated with methane. At Westwind Lakes Park, built on a landfill in Kendall, unapproved fill was removed.

In both cases, the parks were treated to resolve the problems.

Megan O. Wright may be contacted at mwrig001@fiu.edu.