CLEVELAND — Charles James is fed up with the chronic illegal dumping that he said is plaguing his East 75 Street Cleveland neighborhood, and he's urging the city and fellow residents to take action.
James pointed to a newly dumped pile of trash and construction debris that's been left in the driveway of a vacant home just two doors down from his house.
"It’s criminal, it’s just disgusting that you have to look at this," James said. "People tying to upgrade their property, trying to make the neighborhood safe for everybody else."
"I don’t know who’s doing it, but whoever is doing it they better stop doing it because this is a nice neighborhood," James added. “Kids in the neighborhood like to play up and down the street, but it’s just an eyesore and it draws rodents."
Cleveland community activist Ed McDonald has already reported on several illegal dumping sites on the city's east side thus far in the first two weeks of 2023, including sites on Morgan Avenue and on East 65th Street. McDonald believes a significant portion of the illegal dumping is being perpetuated by a handful of unscrupulous contractors, and he's hoping the city will put up barriers to block access to trucks at known chronic illegal dumping sites.
“The problem is we have to send a message in this neighborhood that we’re tired of getting dumped on, because it makes our neighborhood look bad by them coming in here and treating this like a trash dump," McDonald said. “We’ve repeatedly asked the City of Cleveland to not only clean it, but to provide a permanent solution, so that we don’t continue to have dump sites."
“As you can see, a lot of the stuff is all contractor stuff, a lot of this stuff is when they’re cleaning out houses, working on houses, they don’t want to take it to the city dump and they’re just like we’ll dump it in the neighborhood,” McDonald added.
Ward 5 Cleveland Councilman Richard Starr responded immediately to concerns over illegal dumping and agreed more city dollars are needed to support additional clean-ups, enforcement and to help deal with vacant homes that are too often being used as dumping sites.
“I think what we have to do with illegal dumping is take a more proactive approach," Starr said. "I’m talking about neighborhoods in Ward 5 that have repeatedly been victims of illegal dumping. We need to figure out what we’re going to do with these vacant homes; are we going to put some money in and invest and make sure these get repaired, or get them taken down?"
Starr urged residents to use Cleveland's illegal dumping hotline by dialing 216-664-DUMP (3867), or by dialing the 3-1-1 action line.
Residents can also contact the Cuyahoga County Environmental Crimes Task Force at 216-857-5972. Homeowners can call the Ohio EPA Northeast District hotline at 1-800-686-6330, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints can be made anonymously.
Meanwhile, James reminds residents and homeowners that they need to be part of the solution in reporting illegal dumping and suspicious activity.
“It needs to be cleaned up, and it needs to be stopped because it is a good neighborhood," James said. “Then again, it’s also up to the people that live in the neighborhood too, to watch out and see who’s doing what in the neighborhood and how they can make it better. So it’s not just the city, it’s the people that live in the city too.”