KENT, Ohio — Rachel Thomas and her family just want to walk their dogs in safety near Franklin Mills Riveredge and Fred Fuller Parks but said they are exposed to illegal dumping, trash, and abandoned furniture, which they believe is a neighborhood health and safety issue.
Thomas said the problem area is in the same location where the City of Kent and CSX Railroad worked with the community to help relocate a homeless encampment in Oct. 2021. But Thomas said the potential hazard has nothing to do with the homeless, instead, she believes it's up to the City of Kent and CSX to complete the clean-up and better secure the area located between Franklin Avenue, the CSX tracks, and the Cuyahoga River.
“The mess, children going down through here, it’s not good," Thomas said. "If kids go down through here, if they stumble upon that, kids will play in it.”
"People could get hurt on whatever is down there, the environment, trash everywhere is not good, it’s a health issue. It’s like walking up into the city dump in some of the areas. So, why are they waiting almost a year later to clean it up or not even touched it yet, they should clean it up, whoever is responsible for that piece of land.”
News 5 contacted five Kent city leaders, including three members of Kent city council, and they all responded immediately. Kent council members said the chronic issue is a jurisdictional problem that needs to be better coordinated between multiple city departments and CSX. City leaders pledged to work with its park and health departments in the coming days.
News 5 also contacted CSX about the ongoing issue, but we're still waiting for a response.
Meanwhile, Thomas is hoping the city and CSX will follow through with trash and brush removal, security fence replacement, and safety warning trespassing signage.
“It is wide open, you can get there from any direction straight from the park,'" Thomas said. “It should be secured off so people, not just children, adults, all the college kids that come here from other places are warned. There could be crime, you could come down here in the dark and somebody could jump you.”