Central Park shut down temporarily after glass found in compost


Grace L.

San Ramon Central Park, known for its grass fields, tree-lined walkways and play structure, was shut down after glass was discovered in its compost.

Sanjana Ranganathan, Opinions Editor

San Ramon officials announced the closure of Central Park after the recent discovery that the compost used on the sports fields was contaminated by glass.

The city regularly uses compost to benefit the environment in public parks and fields throughout San Ramon. Unfortunately, the load of compost spread by the Waste Management of Alameda Country in Central Park from Sept. 10-13 contained glass bits, which were quickly deemed a hazard.

Since then, city officials have worked closely with the Maintenance and Public Works Department and the Waste Management of Alameda County to ensure sports fields are ready for use by the spring. While the exact cost of the damage is unknown, Waste Management will bear the brunt of the economic burden.

Ms. Kathi Heimen, director of the San Ramon Parks Department, stated that the city is collaborating with Waste Management to remove the glass and install new sod. But the project, while moving at a steady pace, is definitely racing against the clock.

“Grass does not grow as well in the winter, so it is important that we get the seed down right away so it will be ready to play on in the spring,” Heimen explained.

She added that coordinating a project of this size in such a short time requires “everyone to stay on top of their duties.”

Until the clean up crew finishes, Central Park fields remain closed, forcing community members to adapt. Iron Horse Middle School, which regularly utilizes Central Park for P.E. classes, has had to shift their schedules in response to the closure.

“We have at most four classes at a time, with some classes originally on the field, but we’ve had to double up,” Mr. Scott Matek, head of the P.E. department of IHMS, said. “It has limited our ability to do some of the interval training we do on the grass, and some activities will have to be moved to the second semester, causing some of our teachers to have to combine units together.”

The city had initially instructed clean up crews to work on school fields first, with the intention to open them by Nov. 1. However, the project is running behind and school officials will be meeting with the city in December to reevaluate an opening date. Until then, the P.E. department and community will have to continue implementing their changes.

However, this incident has prompted San Ramon and the Waste Department to be more cautious in the future.

“While we do not expect anything like this ever to happen again, given our experience, I am confident that San Ramon staff, as well as our Refuse provider who supplies the compost, will monitor the compost in the future for signs of contamination like the one we have experienced,” Heimen said.