The unsightly and unsanitary problem of illegal dumping has plagued Cleveland’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood for years. On Saturday, however, the neighborhood scored a victory as a neighbor’s watchful eye stopped an illegal dumper in the act.
Tire tracks deep down in the mud weaved across a vacant lot near East 124th Street and Rexford Avenue on Saturday morning as a full-size dump truck with a full load of construction debris stalled out. Kendra Anderson, who lives near the vacant lot, heard what sounded like a truck spinning its wheels. When she stepped outside she knew exactly what was going on, she said.
“This guy was stuck in the mud and in that process of him being stuck it looked like he was about to do some dumping,” Anderson said. “We work here. We live here. And it makes us feel very upset that they would choose this location to dump.”
She immediately called Cleveland police and her councilman, Kenneth Johnson (Ward 4). The longtime councilman said it’s a problem that his office deals with frequently. However, very rarely do illegal dumping perpetrators get caught in the act.
“I get at least two or three complaints every day,” Johnson said. “The city has to dispatch a crew to remove the debris because that will create rodents and everything else. Once they do that, they have to go back and smooth everything out. It’s a big problem.”
After Anderson called the police, the driver of the dump truck took off before officers arrived. However, because the driver left his truck and construction debris behind, Johnson said officers should be able to quickly find the suspect.
“It’s unsightly and its dangerous because it harbors rodents. There’s no telling what’s in the debris. As a matter fact, we had a volunteer to help us clean up lots get stuck by a needle. Now he has hepatitis. It’s a big deal,” Johnson said. “We have cameras, strategic cameras, in a lot of different places. As a matter of fact, we have some just down the street. That deters it.”
While the cameras can certainly help deter the illegal dumping, they are no match to a neighborhood’s vigilance.
Anderson and some of her fellow neighbors lobbied city officials in late September to have city crews dispatched to clean up the debris left behind by previous illegal dumps. However, much to their dismay, the culprits quickly returned, targeting many of the vacant properties and open lots that are scattered around the neighborhood. It’s a frustrating back-and-forth battle, Anderson said.
Saturday’s incident, however, was particularly frustrating.
“It happened in broad daylight with no regard to any type of repercussion or consequences,” Anderson said. “There’s already high blight in our community, high abandonment of property. Along this corridor, this street, [people are] dumping all the time constantly.”
If you suspect illegal dumping in your neighborhood, the City of Cleveland has a hotline, 664-DUMP.