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Toxic site clean up at Bethune Cookman Elementary

7:45 PM, Nov 7, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE,Fla. -- Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary was a stronghold in Jacksonville's black community but for the past 12 years it has sat empty, falling apart, and sitting on a toxic site. 

Finally it is being transformed.

"I can say it," said Rhonda Addo. "At last it has been a long time coming."

Three weeks ago the dump trucks and other heavy equipment rolled onto the campus of the aging school to begin removing the toxic soil.

"The city has made good on the remediation they're cleaning up the land," said Addo.

Like several other locations on the Northwest quadrant of Jacksonville, the Bethune site was a dumping ground for contaminated incinerator ash from the 40s to the 60s.

The clean up is simple the crews are excavating and replacing two feet of dirt from affected areas.

December 7, 2012 the Duval County School Board sold the school to Dr. Rhonda Addo and her congregation Mt. Sinai Holiness Church. The purchased price was $1,600.

Addo said she looked at a structure in disrepair and saw a vision of a bright spot in the community.

"It will be a clinic, a school of the arts, a radio television studio, a cafe, a church," said Addo. "This is gonna be your place in the community."

They have started the restoration on the inside, it needs a lot of work.

"People came in and they stole everything possible while it was vacant," she said.

But that work is small when compared to the toxic site clean up.  The city said the clean up will be completed by the middle of December.

"I'm not gonna let December pass this year without glorifying our savior and lighting up this property," said Pastor Addo.

She said her next step is raising the money, a couple of millions, to completed the restoration.

"I think it would be sign of hope to the community," said Addo.

First Coast News

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