Further environmental study needed at Sportsman’s Park
Sun Staff September 20, 2012 5:16PM
First-time shooter Kelley Heeley of Naperville fires at a clay target during an open house at Sportsmans Park on Sunday, September 16, 2012. Sportsmans Club was hosting the event in honor of its 75th anniversary and invited the public and those who had never fired a weapon to get a taste of shooting. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 22, 2012 6:25AM
The Naperville Park District has learned that more study is needed concerning lead levels on the grounds of Sportsman’s Park.
Used primarily for trap shooting practice, the park southwest of Oswego Road and West Street is home to the Naperville Sportsman’s Club. About 1,000 trap shooters visit the 27-acre facility each year. Lead shot, considered an environmental hazard, has been banned for more than a decade at the range, but it was used there by the sport shooters for half a century before that.
Lead deposits remaining in the soil at the park have created problems in the past. An IEPA report that found traces of lead in groundwater samples taken at the site led to its closure for three months early in 1997. The following year, a federal lawsuit filed by a neighbor of the park asserted contamination, launching a court battle that would bring the city $1 million in legal expenses and close the park for 2 1/2 years. The range reopened when the state granted a permit limiting the patrons to steel shot.
Shaw Environmental Inc. has been performing an assessment of soil and groundwater at the park in accordance with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation plan for the site.
The Park District has received preliminary results of the soil and groundwater assessment along with a recommendation for further study to pinpoint areas requiring clean-up.
The additional assessment is necessary to meet IEPA requirements and to give the district a better understanding of the extent of the problem.
Once the assessment is finished, an engineer’s estimate to fix the problem will be prepared for the Park District. The document will contain options and cost ranges for various remedies, district officials said.
As noted in earlier reports, Shaw has tested the monitoring wells installed at the site and did not encounter unsafe levels of lead in the groundwater. However, the assessment found lead at levels within the trap shooting area and gun range that will require clean-up.
The initial assessment also found lead beyond the eastern fence boundary in a limited area at concentrations exceeding IEPA standards for ingestion exposure. As a precaution, the Park District moved a pathway that went through that area by putting up some temporary fencing.
Park District officials have said that the risk of exposure in the area beyond the fence is limited. Park District Executive Director Ray McGury has said the risk of contamination to anyone from the area outside the fence would require “getting down on the ground and eating the dirt.”