MIAMI – Miami's city manager has closed Melreese golf course as he studies why an environmental report commissioned by David Beckham's Inter Miami CF shows higher levels of toxins than a county environmental report in 2014.
The report was commissioned for Inter Miami, which is currently negotiating a lease to build a proposed $1 billion soccer complex.
According to the report, the soil contains more than twice the legal limit for arsenic contamination.
The golf course is the former dumping site for an old city incinerator that was called Old Smokey, and has been studied and remediated several times.
"The results were quite alarming when it came to things like arsenic," Miami City Manager Emilio Gonzalez said.
After the 2014 testing, the city cleaned toxic contamination found at Melreese Country Club and several other sites, including Merrie Christmas Park.
Those who have been playing golf regularly at Melreese, including children in the First Tee program, are skeptical about the new test results.
"I feel completely safe here or for sure I wouldn't be here with my son," golfer Jonathan Wish said.
The report from Beckham's Inter Miami consultant raises new questions about the cost and scope of cleansing the golf course site for the proposed soccer complex less than a month before a lease deal is scheduled to be signed between Beckham's group and city commissioners.
"I made clear to the individuals that want to develop the property that what was done over the last couple of days should have no bearing on the negotiations going forward," Gonzalez said.
Beckham's Inter Miami group has said it will pay for the remediation and estimates the cost at $35 million. The city believes the cost will exceed $50 million.
Should the site lose market value due to the contamination, the team may look for a better lease price, according to the proposed deal.
Gonzalez said his priority is to get the golf course back open.
"Until such time our technical people and our experts tell me they feel that it's OK, then we'll open back [up] the golf course," he said.