DNR to clean up tire dump

ALBANY, Ga. — A Department of Natural Resources official said DNR has taken steps to cut off access to an illegal tire dump on state-owned land along the Flint River corridor, and cleanup of the dump site will begin soon.

Rob Weller, fisheries supervisor of DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, said Wednesday his department put up gates to limit access to land west of Hilsman Avenue directly across from Barbre Lane just off Radium Springs Road in southeast Albany, where piles of used tires have been dumped.

Bonnie Pope, a program manager with the state’s Environmental Protection Division, acknowledged that the tires present environmental as well as health hazards to residents in the area.

Retired Albany businessman and Navy veteran Ken Faircloth told The Herald in March that he’d reported the dump site to an Albany Police Department officer weeks before but that no action had been taken. Faircloth said he’s pleased to know plans are finally being made to clear the site.

“This shows that if somebody stays with something and doesn’t just give up, eventually the responsible party is going to look you in the eye and say ‘Oops’,” Faircloth said. “I find it interesting that it’s taken this long for someone to finally do something about all those tires back there when they’re laying on state land. If it had been your property or mine, we’d have been put in jail.”

Weller said the land, located between Radium Springs and Oakridge Drive, was purchased by the state as part of former Gov. Roy Barnes’ “RiverCare 2000” greenspace program, which was designed to preserve greenspace along the state’s river corridors. Weller noted that most of the Dougherty County land along the Flint corridor is either owned by the state or the county and has been preserved as greenspace.

“Once we found out about the tires, we put up gates to hopefully keep people from dumping more in that area,” the fisheries expert said. “And in the next few weeks, some of the folks in our department are going to go out there and clean it up ourselves. Understand, we’re fisheries guys — we’re a bunch of fish-heads — but we’re going to get rid of those tires.”

Pope would not say who had made the complaint, but she confirmed that EPD had begun an investigation of the dump site.

“We are required to respond to any kind of complaint like that within 10 days,” she said. “We usually do it much sooner than that. We have been investigating that site, and we’ve tried to find the responsible party.

“We try to work with the property owner when we discover these kinds of hazards and have them voluntarily get into compliance.”

Reminded that the state of Georgia was, in fact, the owner of the property, Pope had Weller contact The Herald.

“Trying to find who is responsible for dumping the tires is like finding a needle in a haystack,” the DNR superviser said. “Unless you catch somebody in the act or someone else squeals, you’re just not going to catch the people responsible. In the last several years, of all the cases like this we’ve had I think we’ve been able to catch one person.

“This will come out of our budget, but it looks like we’re going to have to clean up someone else’s mess.”