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Greenwich Plans To Open More School Fields

GREENWICH, Conn. – With the first snowfall a not-so-distant memory, the Department of Public Works and the school district are working to remediate contaminated soil and open more fields at Greenwich High School.

Since Cardinal Stadium reopened in mid-September, only fields 6 and 7 have been cleared for use by the state. Remediation on fields 2, 3 and 4 are nearing completion, and the district expects field 5 to be open any day. The remaining fields need fall maintenance work done before winter.

When excavation work was done in parking lots in summer for the school's auditorium project, known as MISA, workers discovered soil that was darker than dirt found in July in the school's West Lot. That prompted immediate environmental tests. All work was stopped, and the area covered and closed off.

Testing in surrounding areas revealed low levels of lead, arsenic, barium, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and petroleum hydrocarbons. The athletic fields were closed, forcing high school athletic teams to practice on middle school and elementary school fields.

The town recently submitted a notice of Significant Environmental Hazard to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which is required when certain environmental conditions are identified during site investigations.

The town's Department of Public Works is overseeing soil remediation and long-term environmental studies for the project, according to the school district. For now, the work focuses on removing soil, fencing off areas of contamination and opening more of the fields. Here is the status of remaining fields:

• 3 and 4: Their opening was expected earlier this month but was delayed awaiting state approval of remediation plans. Work has now started. Once it is completed, the fields will be opened, including bleacher access.

• 2: The district plans to remove soil from a small area of this grass field to allow fall maintenance to be completed. Remediation is nearing completion and will allow for maintenance work to be completed soon.

• 5: The district received informal approval for the use of the field by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Public Health. A formal approval of the request is anticipated "in the very near future."

• 6 and 7: Interim remediation has been completed, including the removal of shallow soil, its disposal and restoration of the area with clean topsoil and grass. Small areas around field 7 are fenced off to protect the topsoil and seed that has been placed.

An environmental study of the soil beneath the auditorium site began in early October. Additional soil borings were performed Nov. 13 to further evaluate soil impacts within the construction area for the auditorium project. Data will be available next week. This work was delayed after the recent snowstorm. All information gathered during this study is being used to develop construction procedures for the MISA project.

The town of Greenwich and its contractor AECOM will develop a Public Participation Plan by mid-November to outline communications and outreach for the project, which will include the schedule for full-scale environmental remediation.

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