Soil & Property Testing

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Soil and Property Testing Underway in 

Walltown, East End, East Durham, Lyon, and Northgate Parks

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Latest Updates
August 23, 2023

Soil Assessment Report Summary

FINAL Plain Language Summary

Soil Assessment Report Summary - En Español


Final Soil Assessment Report

Pages from 2023-8-17_Durham_Parks_Soil_Assessment
Previous Updates
  1. August 17 Update
  2. August 11 Update
  3. August 4 Preliminary Findings

August 17 Update

The final lab analysis report from Mid-Atlantic Associates originally expected by August 15 is delayed, because the company is still receiving lab results. They expect to deliver the report to NCDEQ by August 25.

The delayed delivery of the final report does not change any exposure concerns, since areas known to exceed the 400 ppm EPA threshold have already been blocked from access and marked.   We appreciate your patience.

Project Description

On June 1, 2023, the City of Durham received a report created by a student enrolled in Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. The report recommended further soil assessments be conducted in certain areas of Walltown, East End, and East Durham Parks due to findings of soil lead amounts as part of their student research project. The student report also recommended that we assess Lyon and Northgate Parks, based on historical accounts of the land use prior to becoming parks approximately 70 years ago.

The safety of our residents, employees, and guests is a priority we take seriously. Therefore, we immediately contracted for an independent, scientific assessment to be completed with a contractor certified by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to conduct environmental assessments.

Mid-Atlantic Preliminary Soil Assessment Maps

East Durham Park - Click to expand


Walltown Park - Click to expand


East End Park - Click to expand


Original Lead Contamination Study Maps - Click to expand

2023 Lead Study Map - East Durham Park
2023 Lead Study Map - Walltown Park
2023 Lead Study Map - East End Park
Environmental Assessment Experts Hired

Soil Assessment Work Plan

Pages from 2023_07_14_CoD_Lead_Work_Plan_FINAL

Work Plan Summary

Soil Property Testing Handout July Final

En Español

En Espanol
*Final findings now expected by August 15

Founded in 1993, Mid-Atlantic Associates is an engineering and environmental consulting firm that has worked in Durham for a number of years and provided their expertise on many large-scale projects, including a Brownfields assessment and remediation services to support the redevelopment of Golden Belt in downtown Durham.

Mid-Atlantic will conduct an environmental assessment of all five parks following the guidelines established through the NCDEQ’s Registered Environmental Consultant Program.

The work plan for the City’s multi-park soil assessment is complete. This plan directs and outlines Mid-Atlantic on how they’ll perform this study, to include but not limited to:

  • Where they’ll collect samples (including playground sites)
  • How they'll collect samples using the guidance, best practices, and methodology of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ).
  • When, where, and how elements in addition to lead will be analyzed.

This plan extensively builds upon the data initially collected by the former Duke student by going beyond their initial research and using industry best practice tools and methodology approved and supported by the EPA and the NCDEQ. Second, the plan’s scope of work was informed by a collection of resident feedback, subject matter experts, and public health officials.

Environmental Assessment Timeline

Week of July 17

Mid-Atlantic to begin implementing the work plan and collecting soil samples (weather dependent) at Northgate, Lyon, East End, East Durham and Walltown parks.

Sample collection will not interfere with normal park use.

Week of July 24

Anticipated completion of soil sampling (weather dependent).

Now expected by August 15

Soil analysis to be completed and the findings made available to the NCDEQ and the City of Durham.

Anticipated Next Steps:

Once sample collection and analysis are complete, the City will publicly share the findings and provide any future plans, next steps, or further study recommendations through multiple communication methods and venues including, but not limited to:

  • Public meeting(s)
  • Directly contacting neighborhood representatives and liaisons near the five parks
  • Neighborhood Improvement Services Department community engagement teams
  • Community partners and networks
  • DPR’s Soil & Property Testing webpage
  • Social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Instagram Threads, and Nextdoor from @CityofDurhamNC and @dprplaymore channels
  • City Connect and/or Durham Digest newsletter articles
  • News release issued to local print, television, and radio media outlets
Continued Operation of Our Parks

In addition to the health and safety of our residents, we take any reduced access or potential park closures seriously as we know how important our parks are to our community. We have consulted with Mid-Atlantic Associates and the Durham County Department of Public Health about the risks of continued operations of these five parks based on the maps provided in the student report. We’ve also reviewed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State statutes that guide lead abatement and remediation work. 

While originally no play areas were identified as potentially concerning, one soil sample at an unlined playground at Northgate Park tested above the EPA threshold and has been closed as of August 11.

Therefore, as these soil assessments take place in June and July, they will not interfere with the normal programs or operations at these five parks. 

Public Health Information

The Durham County Department of Public Health manages the Lead Education and Assessment Program (LEAP), which offers services to increase lead education and awareness. 

LEAP's website has helpful information about ways you can protect your family from possible lead exposure. Visit their website, email their staff, or call 919-560-4842 for further information and assistance.

Public Outreach

Upcoming Community Meetings

Lyon Park Community

Community Family Life & Recreation Center at Lyon Park 

1309 Halley Street

Saturday, August 12 at 11 a.m.

Community Conversation

Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services Department

Building 2, 807 E Main St #300

Sunday, August 13 at 3  p.m.

Public Meeting #2



Park Signage - English and Spanish

Please do not enter marked area
Do not wade in creek
Por favor, no entre al área marcada
No está permitidocaminar en el arroyo

Transparency and communication are priorities for us. We will continue to update the public through multiple communication methods as findings, future plans, next steps, and further recommendations become available. 

We also understand that parents and park visitors may have questions or concerns about visiting these five parks while our environmental assessments are underway. We’ve developed the above frequently asked questions to help residents make decisions that best fit their comfort levels when deciding to visit one of these parks. 

With more than 65 parks available to our residents, we also have many great places to play this summer so families and park visitors have other options for play, if they so choose.

Bilingual signage has been installed to notify park visitors of the environmental assessments underway with a QR code directing visitors to this project website and more information.

June 29 - Public Information Meeting