Soil found at the Leslie Science & Nature Center, an outdoor area with trails, a critter house and public programming in Ann Arborhas tested positive for “elevated levels” of heavy metals like arsenic and lead, the center reported Monday. In response to the findings, sections of the park have been fenced off as restricted areas, while the rest of the park remains open.

“The city is moving quickly to identify an appropriate remediation plan that will ensure LSNC remains a valuable community asset,” Assistant City Manager John Fournier said. 

Programming has been moved off-site — “out of an abundance of caution” — as an industrial toxicologist told the city the soil could pose a risk if ingested, according to the center. 

According to a city announcement, soil test results received by the city of Ann Arbor on June 20 found traces of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, zinc, selenium, silver, mercury and some semi and volatile organic compounds. 

The soil samples were collected from the planned Nature Playscape construction site and surrounding areas on May 30. The park first asked the city to analyze the soil after discovering an unnatural depression in the woods by the project in April. 

According to the city, part of the woods may have previously been a dump site for the original owner of the property, a chemical engineer who used the area as the “headquarters” for his work. Ann Arbor officials noted the possible dump site currently has no play structures or programming. 

City leaders said results from more comprehensive testing may differ from the initial preliminary report, which they consider “advisory and not determinative.” The Nature Playscape is on hold while Ann Arbor plans to conduct a second round of testing, with results expected by the end of next week.


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