Barbara Marzoff was a frequent visitor to St. James Memorial Sports Park until she noticed a sign warning of a dangerous chemical being emitted in the area.
On Aug. 14, Marzoff saw a sign at the back of the park’s parking lot stating the park was undergoing pesticide treatment with Ground Force 20239, which is used to kill house mice, Norway and roof rats, ground squirrels, and voles, according to a report issued by Bartlett, a company which provides agricultural products.
In this instance, Ground Force 20239 was being used to kill gophers.
Marzoff was particularly disturbed that the chemical was being released in an area where many dogs and children play.
Marzoff spent four hours that day warning people about the pesticide.
"I chased away 15 people with dogs and three or four families with kids and said, ‘If you’re not comfortable with this, don’t have them in the field,’" Marzoff said.
According to the Bartlett report, manufacturers said applicators must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and chemical-resistant gloves. Users should "remove clothing immediately if pesticide gets inside. Then wash skin thoroughly and put on clean clothing."
"This part made me scared," Marzoff added, mentioning that most park users likely don’t wear PPE.
Marzoff was also upset by the sign itself. It was small and located in an out-of-the-way place. There was no date or time on it.
"The sign was another thing that was a joke," Marzoff said. "If you came in on foot, you wouldn’t have seen it. If you came in through the walkway on Silver and cut across the grass, you wouldn’t have seen it."
The sign has since been removed, but Marzoff is still doing everything she can to protect people and animals from being exposed to the chemical.
"I had put up some signs and someone ripped them down," Marzoff said. "I drive by that field — I go there all the time, and when I see people, I let them know."
Marzoff said she tried to contact the city on several occasions to get them to stop using the chemical, but has not received a reply.
City spokesperson Tammy Melesko told The Metro in an email that the "Parks and Open Space Division has a contract with a professional pest control company to treat parks in certain areas where (gopher) infestations are reported.
"Gopher treatment in various parks has been going on for decades," Melesko added.
She also said it is the pest control company’s responsibility to notify the public about such procedures.
Melesko would not disclose the name of the contractor.