WEST CHATHAM — After months of complaining, residents welcomed the news Thursday that crews next week will begin cleaning up a city lot that was once used as an auto pound but is now filled with trash and other debris.
The lot at the corner of 83rd Street and Birkhoff Avenue is still used by the city's Forestry Bureau to store trees that had been cut down.
But on Thursday when DNAinfo Chicago visited the fenced-in lot, which was not secured, there were three piles of tires stacked 10 feet high, along with piles of tree debris and trash, including discarded furniture. The lot was full of mud and insects.
"That lot smells and is a danger to the community because it is isolated, and is next to a park where kids play," said Sharon Watkins, 48, who lives nearby in the 8400 block of South Kerfoot Avenue. "I no longer go to the park to jog because I can't stand the smell of trash."
Wendell Hutson describes the West Chatham lot that the city says it will clean up soon:
Molly Poppe, a spokeswoman for the city's Streets and Sanitation Department, said the lot will be cleaned beginning next week.
"I'm not sure if the lot would be cleaned up in one day but I know clean up is scheduled to begin Monday," Poppe said. "That does not mean the Forestry Bureau won't still be using the lot."
She added that up until a few years ago the lot was used to store impounded vehicles by the city.
Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), whose ward includes the lot, said he had asked for the cleanup to happen sooner. He said he would like to see the lot used for a redevelopment project once it is cleared.
"I have been told by Streets and Sans that the lot would be cleaned up by the end of this month," Brookins said. "I had hoped it would be cleaned up sooner but that has not happened."
Adjacent to the fenced in lot at the corner of 83rd Street and Birkhoff Avenue is Garrett A. Morgan Elementary School, which was among 49 underutilized schools Chicago Public Schools closed last year.
Nina Stewart, who lives in the 8300 block of Perry Avenue, said she is happy Morgan Elementary is no longer open.
"If that school was still open kids would be walking past it [lot] everyday. That place is a playground for pedophiles," said Stewart, 35. "Something like this should never happen especially when parks and schools are close by."
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