Prompted by repeated calls from Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, community leaders and Bronx residents, the Mayor’s office announced today that they will take action to clean up a stretch of filthy standing water in Bronx.
Last month, the City Department of Health (DOHMH) detected the West Nile Virus in mosquitoes in Bronx. Public Advocate Gotbaum visited the site to call on the City to clean it up before mosquito season. On a visit to the tracks, representatives from the Public Advocate’s office spotted rats, animal carcasses, and swarms of mosquitoes rising above the filthy muck.
Gotbaum said, “Finally, after three separate calls by my office to clean up this swamp and months of trying to pass the buck, the city has announced that it will take responsibility and clean up the swamp. This is a victory for the residents nearby who have to deal with it everyday. No one should have to live near an area as filthy, and potentially dangerous, as the Bronx swamp at any time of year, but especially during mosquito season when it is a public health hazard. I am pleased that the city has decided to take action.”
The swamp is about a one and-a-half mile strip from Bruckner Expressway to St. Mary’s Park. During this rainy summer, the water at times reached four to five feet in the deepest parts. Bright green duck weed covers the waters exposed to sunlight, and all sorts of litter – shoes, crates, bottles large and small-float in the water and cover the walls that run along side the abandoned railroad tracks.
The City could not take action on the property, as records showed that it was under the jurisdiction of a private company.
When they investigated, they found that a variety of companies had title of the tracks at one point or another, according to Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler. Those companies include the MTA, Amtrak, and CSX, none of which took ownership of the plot. Records show that freight transporter CSX officially abandoned the railway in 2004, but residents say trains stopped running there in 1999 or 2000.