A lead pilot program released preliminary data that shows a 50% reduction in lead at a green space at 38th Street and Post Road. The CareSource Foundation awarded $10,000 to Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and IUPUI for the green space project earlier this year to reduce lead in the soil in historically redlined neighborhoods.
A vacant lot next to Community Alliance of the Far Eastside was transformed into the Far Eastside Orchard Green Space at 8902 E. 38th St. in the fall of 2021 by making walking paths, planting trees and building a play area. The far east side has been home to several industrial and manufacturing companies over the years, contaminating the area with lead disproportionately compared to other parts of Indianapolis.
The east side green space was no exception to elevated levels of lead, KIB found. When lead is found on a lot, the soil can be dug up and disposed of at a safe disposal site. However, the process is expensive and can stir up more lead that would have not been mobilized otherwise, KIB President and CEO Jeremy Kranowitz said. The better option is to find ways to cover the soil with new clean layers of dirt, sidewalks, raised vegetable gardens, etc. Utilizing this method reduced lead at the east side green space by 50%, according to preliminary data.
KIB and CareSource built walking paths, raised vegetable gardens and a new shelter to house community events, which have contributed to reducing lead in the soil. The program will continue to measure lead content in the soil and may look at implementing the same techniques at other green spaces throughout Indianapolis, Kranowitz said.
Cheria Caldwell, vice president of communications for CAFE Indy, said she watches the community utilize the space every day. From children parking their bikes at the green space while they go to school, to a group of women who used to walk the parking lot on their lunch break and now round the walking path, Caldwell said she has seen the space transform into a safe place for community members to exercise, play and enjoy themselves.
“One day after the path was dry, we had neighborhood children riding their bikes right on that path,” Caldwell said. “So for there to be that safe space was so great. It was so satisfying seeing the outcome.”
Contact staff writer Jayden Kennett at 317-762-7847or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JournoJay.