What Lies Beneath

What's in the smelly, oily water coming out of the ground at the new Heritage Park housing development?

Concerns voiced to McCormack-Baron have gone unanswered, they say. Still, most say they will stay at Heritage Park because they have nowhere else to go, and almost all prefer to remain anonymous for fear of being evicted.

Officials from the master developer say they are unaware of any gripes. "We don't think anyone is getting sick," says McCormack-Baron's Darlene Walser. "We have not been contacted about that, and it has not been a concern. We haven't heard any complaints."

But Sherry Cruse, a 19-year-old single mother who works at a nearby SuperAmerica, says she has lodged a number of complaints since she moved to Heritage Park in March. Cruse says her eight-month-old son Elijah has been ill since early June. He's had diarrhea and trouble keeping his milk down. She's taken him to the emergency room twice.

Last Friday a crew came to clean the muck at the Heritage Park playground
Last Friday a crew came to clean the muck at the Heritage Park playground

"The water doesn't taste right, and just the smell all the time is enough to make you wonder what's going on," Cruse says. "It's like we live in the projects. They say there ain't no problems? Oh, please."

While everyone is waiting to see if there is a serious environmental problem at Heritage Park, it will take some doing to stem the tide of resident suspicion. Given the political and racial implications that led to the demolition of Hollman and the construction of the new site, many in the African American community are outraged that history seems to be repeating itself already.

"People just want to know what it is, and what exactly is going on there," says state rep Ellison. "People of color shouldn't have to live like this in this neighborhood anymore."

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