After the eviction of several homeless people from an area dubbed Tent City in Gainesville, remnants of the former occupants linger throughout the property. The question still remains, though, who will be in charge of cleaning it up.
Tent City was off Hawthorne Trail near Fourth Street, and the area is still littered with trash after homeless people were evicted from it in July.
Tents remain, clothes are strewn everywhere and bottles are scattered throughout, making the once beautifully wooded area look like a dump site.
Some Gainesville residents believe the city should help the property owner clean up the area, but former City Commission candidate Annie Orlando believes the city should be solely responsible for repairing the damages..
Orlando said Tent City resembled a black market; drug dealing and prostitution took place within the homeless community.
“The city knew about the problem,” she said. “Codes enforcement did not do their job (and) the health department did not do their job either by allowing this to continue for as many years as it did.”
Many industrial companies located near Tent City have seen its residents in their most unappealing light, she said.
Owners of the companies that surrounded Tent City have found former residents bathing using company hoses and breaking into or sleeping in front of their buildings. Owners thought having the homeless evicted would eliminate all the problems, but the trash left behind is still causing issues.
Recently, cleaning has begun at the site. The Florida Department of Health has gone to the area to assess the damage.
“We were asked to assess the sanitary conditions on these properties, and we’ve seen there’s probably less than 10 buckets of human waste,” said Anthony Dennis, the director of Environmental Health for the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department.
Dennis said they will advise and consult with whomever takes charge of the clean-up and guide them on how to properly handle and remove the waste.
Though garbage bags have been filled and bottles piled together, there is still a lot of work to be done. The amount of land that needs to be cleaned cannot be completed by one person, and citizens are counting on the city for help.
Orlando said the city will be sending out volunteers from Keep Alachua County Beautiful along with dumpsters to help collect the trash in hopes the area will be cleaned out soon.
Along with the city, the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department and the Florida Department of Health are working to come up with a better solution to clean up Tent City.
No future plans have been made yet, but these organizations hope to restore the Tent City area to its former, natural state.