ENGLEWOOD — A South Side yard filled with trash — that some said attracted "rats so big the cats are scared" — was cleaned by the city Tuesday.
The action came a day after DNAinfo Chicago reported the neighbors' complaints and what they said were fruitless efforts to get help from the city. Before the lot was cleaned, the backyard was filled with tires, tree trunks, furniture and bags of garbage.
"All summer, the city kept saying what it could not do, and now they apparently have changed their minds because they sent a full crew out to clean all that trash up, and they did a good job, if I have to say so myself," said Robert Coley, 62, who lives near the yard at the abandoned property at 7047 S. Parnell Ave. "It's a shame though that it took the media to first do a story before they came out here."
Coley said he was surprised to see the city crews after initially being told by the city's Streets and Sanitation Department that crews could not go onto private property to remove trash.
Officials with the Streets and Sanitation Department did not return calls seeking comment on why the city came out Tuesday.
But in a statement issued Tuesday evening, Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), whose ward includes the abandoned home, said earlier in the day his "ward superintendent was cleaning the vacant lot with multiple city departments. This is not the first time that my office has had this lot cleaned, and it will not be the last time."
Still, Sawyer said that neighbors, too, have a responsibility to maintain the lot.
"At a certain point we must acknowledge that the lot is filled with neighborhood-based trash, and it is true that no matter how many times we clean the lot, ticket or lay down poison, you will always have a rodent problem as long as people continue to dump garbage that is allowed to linger.
"The city has a responsibility to help secure the vacant buildings, ticket irresponsible owners and work to ensure city services are applied fairly. But neighbors have a responsibility to lend a helping hand."
If neighbors do choose to help clean up in the future, Sawyer said he'd be willing to personally help out: "Know that anywhere you are willing to work to clean up your lots or alleys, give my office a call and I will be there, with my work boots on."