The TallyCast

…all polite and classy.

Coming to a Park Near You

In the “Welcome to Hell, here’s your banjo” department, say hello to Boca Chuba; a piece of sculpture planned for the south end of Cascade park.  The new park sits on top of a hazardous waste site, a former landfill and an entire community, swept away in the name of progress.

Part of the site, once a lovely stream with a small waterfall (hence the “cascade” of it all) was used by the City of Tallahassee to make gas for residential and commercial heating from the late 1800’s until about 1950.  The process created hazardous byproducts which were simply dumped on the site.  Hey; it was a simpler time and naturally, things were done, well, simply.  When the EPA finally noticed, the site was classified as a “Superfund” site.  That was the first good thing that happened to the site since the City took it over.

To get ready for parky goodness, three inches of soil were removed from an old stream bed and trucked up to a landfill near Valdosta .  (A sincere tip of the TallyCast chapeau to our neighbors to the north for taking our superfund poison sludge).  The contaminated stream bed, and the adjoining dump site were covered with a clay cap and work is quickly progressing on turning a hazardous wasteland into an urban playland.

Adjoining the former toxic waste site, the park includes what was once a vibrant African American community , Smokey Hollow.  That neighborhood was mostly razed not that many years ago in the name of urban renewal.  Given the toxic soil next door, perhaps in the end, that was actually a favor to the displaced families.

The new park will feature recreation trails, ponds, our friend Boca Chuba and a very nice restroom/shower/changing facility.  I suspect that the many homeless people living in the area will be especially grateful for the new facility.

I know that the new park is going to be an asset to the community.  My friends who live in the area are very excited and full of daily reports on the progress being made.  I know that it will make Tallahassee a better place to live.  Still, I have to mourn just a little bit for the way it used to be.

A local stealth organization, Capital Ventures, is accepting tax-deductible (they are a 501C3) donations which they say, will be used to purchase planned but unfunded park furnishings.  That sounds like a good idea.  For a $100 donation, the organization will inscribe text of your choice on a brick to be installed somewhere in the park.  Keep your eyes open for one that says “http://www.tallycast.com“.

A few of the more successful businesses in Tallahassee have already ponied up and made substantial cash and in-kind contributions to the project.  There are “sponsorship” opportunities for several of the park features including that fish thing.

A drawing by Comte Francis de Castelnau depicting the waterfall (1839)

The image of the fish sculpture is from the Blueprint 2000 web site.  The two historic images come from the Florida State Archives (An organization I’m proud to support with my state tax dollars) via our friends a Wikimedia.

Resources:

Blueprint 2000 Cascades Park project site

Buy a brick in Cascades Park

Cascade Park Gasification Plant Superfund Site -EPA Report (pdf).

Florida’s Lost Waterfall –  A beautiful article about  the Cascades by local hero Julie Hauserman  Between Two Rivers: Stories from the Red Hills to the Gulf. pp. 157–159. ISBN 0-9759339-0-6.

Recording (ca 1925) of Tallahassee Tight (Louis Washington) and Sparkplug Smith includes a tune, Tallahassee Women that mentions Smokey Hollow.

PodCast featuring Smokey Hollow.

Wikipedia page for Cascades Park

4 Comments

  1. It’s the best thing that ever happened to my neighborhood.

  2. The “Welcome to Hell; here’s your banjo” line is from a classic Gary Larson Far Side cartoon. The complete quotation is “Welcome to Heaven; here’s hour harp. Welcome to Hell; here’s your banjo.”

  3. The “landfill” you mentioned is a licensed hazardous waste facility. The people in Valdosta are very happy to take such materials. The facility is completely safe and approved by the government.

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