Environmental experts long have suspected Naperville's Sportsman's Park of being contaminated with lead.
Their suspicions recently were confirmed.
Naperville Park District Executive Director Ray McGury said Tuesday that soil and water tests have uncovered traces of lead just outside the eastern fence line and in the trapshooting section and the gun range.
Naperville city and park officials have agreed to work together to rid Sportsman's Park of the contamination. Last year they enrolled the city in a state Environmental Protection Agency Site Remediation Program aimed at cleaning the park grounds of about six decades' worth of lead contamination from trapshooting at the site along West Street near downtown.
The property has been used for shooting sports since roughly 1937. Only steel pellets have been used since 1998 when a settlement agreement signed by the city, park district and others banned lead shot and adopted certain environmental protections enforced by the IEPA.
"Based on all the years of shooting lead, prior to 1999, this was expected," McGury said. "What was found is consistent with what (The Shaw Group, Inc.) expected to find based on the number of other sites they have tested in the past. Further testing is coming to outline exactly what has to be remediated inside the fence line so we don't spend time and, most importantly, money on removing good soil.
"As far as lead found outside the fence line, it also makes sense since many years ago the shooting stations were more forward on the site itself: hence the lead outside the fence line."
Since the findings, a fence has been installed around the area as district officials decide exactly how to remediate the site.
"We may put a parking lot over that area outside the fence line which encapsulates it and we get the best of both worlds. We fix the problem and provide much needed parking along West Street," McGury said. "Our other option is to haul dirt away and plant trees and bushes."
Once all the testing is complete later this fall, McGury said, the park district will have a better idea about the cost and time frame to remediate the entire site.