Cleaning up: It’s about turf in two Everett parks

A field with sod removed revealing the soil below Wiggum's Park

A field in Wiggums Hollow Park awaits new topsoil and turf. The sod and a layer of soil have been removed, as part of the Everett Smelter cleanup.

We’re pulling up sod in two Northeast Everett parks and will plant new turf when we’re done. The project started this month on three acres of Wiggums Hollow Park, and we’ll start tackling the slope below the Viola Oursler Overlook in April.

Both parks lie within the Everett Smelter plume, a 1.1 square mile area where contaminated particles from smokestacks settled out of the air and onto the ground. The Everett Smelter operated near today’s intersection of North Broadway and East Marine View Drive from 1894-1912, but the contamination wasn't discovered until 1990.

A string of park cleanups

Our park work this year will complete a trio of projects that began with the cleanup of American Legion Park in 2015 and 2016. We removed contaminated soils while protecting the park’s trees.

At Wiggums Hollow Park we’re clearing large areas of lawn, removing 6 to 18 inches of contaminated soil, putting in new topsoil, then rolling out new sod. The work area and a nearby basketball court are fenced off. After we’re done, fencing will remain around the new sod for two months to allow the new lawn’s roots to establish. The park should be fully open by early July.

Map outlining the area around the Everett Smelter Site where cleanups will occur at Wiggums Hollow Park and American Legion Park.

Soil and grass replacement at Wiggums Hollow Park and Viola Oursler Overlook will complete a series of cleanups at three parks in the Everett Smelter plume area.

We’ll close the Viola Oursler Overlook, starting in late April, so that we can clear grass, shrubs and about a foot of contaminated soil from its slope. We’ll put in new topsoil and use hydro seeding to plant new grass. The overlook should re-open late in July, but the slope will remain fenced through the end of the summer.

A last bit of road work

Cleanup of most of the former smelter property itself took place in 2005-2007, and last year we removed contaminated soil from the rest of that area, now occupied by East Marine View Drive.

That project tied up traffic with lane closures, and we thank everyone affected for their patience and cooperation. Removing soil and rubble from demolished buildings – to a depth of about 18 feet – got rid of sources of lead and arsenic contamination in groundwater that flows to the Snohomish River.

We’re about to finish that work this week, on East Marine View Drive near SR 529 and Riverside Road, with the final paving and striping. Those had to wait until after freezing weather. We’ll have to slow, restrict and direct traffic, but there will be no closures! 

Yard cleanups continue

The park cleanups are like a large version of our ongoing cleanup of residential yards in the plume area. We’re offering soil sampling at any yard we haven’t previously sampled in the cleanup area.

We work with property owners on a voluntary basis. We start with soil testing and, when needed, we offer to remove contaminated dirt and bring in clean soil to restore the yard.

If you live within the cleanup site and your yard has not had its cleanup, please continue to follow healthy actions that include washing hands with soap, leaving shoes at the door, regular floor and carpet cleaning, and frequent washing of children’s toys and pacifiers.