Some South Florida residents say there is a jungle brewing in their backyard, and they are desperate to have it cleaned up. Karen Hensel has tonight’s 7 Investigates.
Talk about a “growing” problem.
Rebeca Blanco: “This is like living in the Everglades, you know?”
Daniel Vargas-Gonzalez: “It’s messy. Basically, looks like a jungle.”
No, Rebeca and Daniel don’t live on the edge of the Everglades or in a jungle, but this is what has them and other neighbors concerned in their Southwest Miami-Dade community located at Eureka Drive and 148th Road.
Daniel Vargas-Gonzalez: “We’ve had a few people come through and maintain it, but that hasn’t happened in well over about a year.”
The 7News drone shows the grass and weeds that have grown taller than backyard fences.
There are homes along both sides of this long strip of land.
Daniel Vargas-Gonzalez: “There shouldn’t be anything growing this uncontrollably.”
Some portions are trimmed, but large areas are not.
Here’s Daniel’s view from inside his home: a window into the wilderness behind his backyard patio.
Daniel Vargas-Gonzalez: “Jungle scenery. That’s my little jungle scenery right here.”
Residents of these new townhouses built in 2021 say in addition to being an eyesore, the grass is attracting animals and insects.
Leidy Muguruza: “We have a neighbor that she told us she saw a rat, and it even has a nest.”
Daniel Vargas-Gonzalez: “There have been reports of snakes and giant lizards, huge spiders, and we pretty much don’t know what else is in there.”
Rebeca Blanco: “The dangerous part of it, you know? And I have two kids, and there is a lot of wild animals.”
But an even bigger worry than wild animals, is the threat of wildfires.
Daniel Vargas-Gonzalez: “All it takes is a flick of a cigarette, and it could be something big.”
Rebeca Blanco: “It’s dangerous to my kids, it’s dangerous to my house, because this is really dry. We can lose our houses.”
Leidy Muguruza: “Very dangerous for us and for our property.”
A closer look reveals what “used” to roll through this area: trains.
Daniel Vargas-Gonzalez: “It used to be a train passageway, but now it’s just been abandoned.”
The old tracks are hidden by the brush.
But signs and property records show the land is still owned by CSX Transportation.
Roberto Gutierrez: “I’ve actually sent emails to the railroad company. I haven’t received any response or anything. It just keeps growing and growing.”
Growing grass and growing frustration, so we emailed the Jacksonville-based company, and the same day we got a response: CSX contractors would clean up the property the next week.
Just three days after 7 Investigates reached out to CSX, crews were out cutting.
Roberto Gutierrez: “I would love for them to just cut all of this, make green grass, make a little park or something that kids in the area could enjoy in the area or at least just maintain it on a regular basis.”
Although we were told the property would be cleaned up, we went Tuesday and found a lot of trash and in some places the weeds still taller than the fence.
We have asked CSX if there is a plan for a full cleanup and why it has not been maintained for a year. CSX responded late Wednesday afternoon they will continue to work in the area until the issues are addressed.
Karen Hensel , 7News.
A spokesperson for CSX Transportation issued the following statement:
“CSX contractors are working to cut overgrown vegetation along our rail corridor in Southwest Miami and will continue until the issues in areas near fence lines that can be safely and legally accessed are addressed. There is not a defined schedule as work flows are dependent on various factors including availability of resources, severe weather or other unexpected disruptions. Vegetation along the railroad tracks or the ballast line will remain to deter trespassing on railroad property. We remind the public that dumping trash or construction debris on railroad property is considered trespassing, which is not only dangerous but also illegal. CSX strives to be a good neighbor in communities where we operate and we encourage the public to report any suspicious activity on or near railroad property to local police. Community residents can contact us with non-emergency railroad concerns online at www.csx.com/tellcsx. CSX’s environmental services team reviews all notifications of refuse and vegetation issues near the company’s right of way and will respond in a timely manner.”
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