Toxic Chemicals Cause Melreese Golf Course to Close


Sofia Cruz

Before it was closed due to toxic substances being found in its soil, the Melreese golf course was the main location for the Cavalier Golf team’s practices.

Sofia Cruz, Staff Writer

It came as a shock to many this past week on Tuesday, Aug. 20, when the Melreese golf course was shut down for having toxic chemicals in its soil. The ground was found to have high levels of dangerous pollutants in the dirt, which was a concern among those who golf there or have a financial investment in the facility. Although this development does not pose any threat to human health, community concern still led to the temporary closing of Melreese golf course by Miami City Manager Emilio Gonzalez before an eventual reopening of the facility on Aug. 23.

According to specific accounts from the Division of Environmental Resource Management, extreme amounts of arsenic, barium, tile, metal and glass containing fine particles of sand were discovered underneath the ground. The mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, stated that the measured quantity of arsenic was four and a half times the acceptable amount for a golf course.

Regardless of the elevated contaminant levels, the course was reopened last Friday, Aug. 23. Although it was closed for five days, the city of Miami’s director of the Division of Environmental Resources Management made claims that there was no need for concern as the contamination posed no serious threat to anyone.

Melreese Country Club, situated near Miami International Airport, is also known for its controversial scheduling to be torn down. David Beckham, a former professional soccer player for England’s national team, is hoping to construct a new shopping center, soccer stadium, office, and public park for the hefty price of one billion dollars in its place.

It was reported that one of Beckham’s partner’s consultants was the one who discovered the substances as shallow as half a foot underneath the ground. The consultant was meaning to complete a quick inspection to make sure everything was up to code. However, once the toxic waste was stumbled upon, it had to be reported to the city of Miami, thus creating this massive situation.

Unfortunately for the Cavalier Golf team, this shutdown comes with negative, personal effects.

Melreese is where most of the practices and some games are supposed to be held. Now, Miami-Dade County Public Schools has decided that the course is off-limits for students on high school teams until further notice.

As a result of this, those who currently play for Gables have to find alternative practice locations. Instead of going to Melreese, competitions and practices are forced to be relocated to farther courses, where it is more difficult for the players to participate.

“I feel that the practices have been made slightly more difficult, as there were increased benefits of Melreese, such as Coach Charlie being able to easily coordinate practices and activities since he helps out there,” freshman Austin Yagoda said.

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Now we must relocate to places that charge us a lot more and most places we cannot really afford to practice at as much as we did at Melreese. Also, now other courses are crowded as they have to accommodate everyone that is coming from Melreese.”

— Sofia Alfonso

The origin of the chemicals in the soil can be traced back to about 70 years ago when the area was used by the city of Miami to burn trash and dump enormous piles of toxic ashes.

An incinerator functioned there until the late 1970s when the plant closed. Once the course was built, its past was totally forgotten, and all the chemicals that accumulated underneath players’ feet went unnoticed.

That is, until now of course. The city of Miami will continue to investigate the looming issue, as these recent developments may lead to an eventual clean up of the area. The many supporters of this sport and customers of Melreese who are still wary, or are unable to return, hope that the issue is resolved soon so that they can get back to golfing as soon as possible.