Denton Tackles Concerns Over Arsenic in Playground

By Brian Scott
|  Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013  |  Updated 9:21 AM CDT
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Major changes may be on the way to a popular Denton park, Tuesday the city council discusses concerns about arsenic at the Eureka playground at South Lakes Park.

Brian Scott, NBC 5 Denton County Reporter

Major changes may be on the way to a popular Denton park, Tuesday the city council discusses concerns about arsenic at the Eureka playground at South Lakes Park.

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The City of Denton plans to discuss the future of a 19-year-old playground Tuesday night.

The City Council will address arsenic concerns about Eureka Playground at South Lakes Park during their work session. The playground is of a design that was only ever expected to last about 20 years when it was created by Denton volunteers, according to council documents.

Now, after concerns arose earlier this year over the wood in the park, and as the playground reaches the two-decade mark, Denton city leaders question what to do with it.

The playground, like many playgrounds of the same age, has been treated with a pesticide that contains arsenic.

Texas Tech University released research in June that found arsenic can lead to increased cancer risks after repeated contact.

The Denton playground is regularly treated to prevent arsenic from leaching, but visitors are still advised to wash their hands after use.

Many parents said warning signs posted at the park about the presence of arsenic have been enough to keep them away.

"We've lived here three years and this is my third time to come because of the chemicals on it,” said Denton mom Meg Langlitz. "They lick things. They lick most things, so they're actually licking the wood. So that whole wash your hands after you leave thing; it's too late."

"We only live 10 minutes away, so we probably would come all the time, if it wasn't for the arsenic,” said Paige Robinson who was at the park with her kids Tuesday.

Denton's Parks and Recreation Department only listed age as their main factor for Tuesday’s discussion, but listed several options on what to do with Eureka Playground.

The main option offered by the Denton Park Foundation is to tear the current playground down and raise funds to replace it with a new one. That could include hiring a firm to gather citizen input on a design for the playset; much like they did with the current one in the 1990s.

The council also has the option of replacing Eureka with a conventional, and more modern, metal and plastic playground.

"The big metal plastic ones are a dime a dozen. You can find them anywhere,” said Langlitz.

However many parents said safety is the number one concern, and therefore so is getting rid of the current wood at the playground.

The Denton Parks and Recreation Department did not specify a timeline for action on the matter, however, they did state that a design would likely have to be created for a new park before fundraising expectations could be set. 

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