Orange County moves to clean up Bithlo dump site


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County appears to be taking a significant step toward getting a hazardous dump cleaned up.

A public hearing is scheduled for Monday to consider declaring the site a brownfield, an abandoned site that could be reclaimed and put to use.

A brownfield declaration could mean federal money to help with cleanup of the property.

Years of illegal dumping on the property in Bithlo during the 1970s and 1980s left a huge contaminated mess.

In 1992 the county declared the site a hazard.

Twenty years later the land still sits with things like fiberglass, diesel, and paint, continuing to break down in the soil.

In the early 1990s residents wrote letters pleading for something to be done about, what they called, "Mount Trashmore."

On a file folder the then-county attorney wrote a note explaining why the county would not put a lien on the property and foreclose on it.

"We don't want to take title to contaminated property," the note read.

Tim McKinney, with United Global Outreach, has studied years of public records

McKinney said he is encouraged after finding out about the meeting to declare the site a brownfield.

"I think it's very significant because for the past 20 years there's been a whole lot of talk, and now it seems like there is finally some action behind the talk," said McKinney.

A recent study found unsafe levels of arsenic in the dump. Just a few yards away WFTV found a resident growing a garden in soid that she said she is now concerned might not be safe.

"I think it's a shame," said resident Kathleen Simlick.

"If having a dump in Mayor Jacob's and Commissioner Edward's neighborhood wouldn't be OK, it shouldn't be okay in Bithlo," said McKinney.

In the county's application it said that cleaning up and redeveloping this site would bring jobs to the area and be part of a larger transformation of the community.

Public Hearing Information:

Monday, November 19 at 6 p.m.

Bithlo Community Park, 18501 Washington Avenue, Orlando, Florida

More information: Brownfield Designation Public Hearing