Riverside Park soil testing proposal moves forward

WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- During the Parks and Recreation committee meeting on Monday, members voted to allow Citizens for a Clean Wausau environmental advocacy group to conduct soil testing at Riverside Park. Residents who live in the area believe the park may still be contaminated from the improper burning of wood waste decades ago caused by Wauleco.

“We thought if the Government is not going to do it, then we need to step up and do it,” said Tom Kilian, a member of the Citizens for a Clean Wausau. “We are hoping that the outcome is that there are no exceedances in the park. But if there are, we would ask the city and the state to do further testing to define the full extent of that contamination.”

The environmental group has offered to conduct at least three tests on their own using their funds. The Parks and Recreation Committee agreed to allow the testing as long as the group shares their findings to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the City of Wausau. However, the group won't be allowed to conduct their test if City Council votes against the proposal. In the meantime, the city does not plan to do any testing of their own until more results come in.

“I feel like this is a safe park,” stated Alderman Patrick Peckham, Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee. “But let’s make sure that in confidence we can tell the community they can go down there. That their kids are not in any danger. Let’s establish that without any doubt.”

The DNR has already ordered Wauleco to test. Those results will be shared with the public in November. If there is soil contamination found in the park, it will be up to the City of Wausau to fix the issue unless the city can prove someone else is responsible for the contamination.