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Contractor cleans up, removes pump during investigation into runoff at Pottsburg Creek

Pottsburg Creek Concerns
Pottsburg Creek Concerns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The I-TEAM on Monday learned that local and state agencies are investigating complaints of illegal dumping into a Jacksonville waterway, and on Tuesday, a city councilman told News4Jax he’s following the situation closely.

Video from a neighbor’s drone shows what appears to be runoff from a nearby construction site entering Pottsburg Creek near Beach Boulevard and Hogan Road on the city’s Southside.

On Tuesday, the I-TEAM didn’t see any dump trucks coming or going -- much different than Monday when trucks were seen arriving at the site filled with dirt. The trucks were observed dumping the dirt, and a bulldozer put dirt from the site into the truck before driving away.

The dig site, which is about 30 feet deep, is filled with water, mud and bugs.

Sky4 drone footage shows construction site next to Pottsburg Creek. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

“To wake up, your bed is shaking, your windows are rattling, your dishes are rattling, the pictures are going crooked, the dust is blowing everywhere,” said Barbara Hanuscin, who lives in the area. “It has been a nightmare.”

The biggest concern for residents is the muddy water and whatever it may contain. Michael Best, a photographer, says the drone video he recorded shows hundreds of feet of silt being pumped into the creek and he’s worried about it contaminating the water.

The I-TEAM discovered the former owner of the property sold it in April to an limited liability company for $115,000.

“We’ve been following it very close since the first shovel hit the ground,” said City Councilman Kevin Carrico, who represents the district that encompasses the site.

It’s being used to swap out dirt with a Baymeadows construction site, which Carrico says will be a Wawa gas station.

“I’m connecting the dots,” Carrico said. “We’re getting the right people on scene from the city, we have talked to code enforcement, environmental protection, the DEP and now are reaching out to the developers themselves to figure out what is going on here and how can we rectify the situation.

An unidentified man who said he was a contractor was spotted at the site Tuesday. He told the I-TEAM that he’s heard the concerns from neighbors and that he’s working to address them.

City of Jacksonville records show contractors Shaw’s Clearing, Dirt on Demand and Brightway Realty had several violations and that inspectors gave them a notice to fix the issues.

Daniel Bergin, the owner of Dirt on Demand, sent News4Jax a statement:

“Dirt On Demand was informed by the City of Jacksonville and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that there are reports of offsite discharge of turbid water into Pottsberg Creek over the weekend. There is a YouTube video that was taken from a drone by a neighbor Friday evening showing the pump running. Our site was shut down Friday afternoon which is evident by the equipment being parked and blocking the driveway as well as no personnel onsite. The pump had not been used for multiple days prior to the July 16th and was not turned on by anyone associated with or contracted by Dirt On Demand. The site is inspected daily by multiple agencies and was in fact inspected the day of the 16th by the City of Jacksonville. At no time during the inspections has there been silt, sand, or water leaving the site and contaminating the creek. It is unfortunate that this happened.”

Residents have demanded that the construction project stops immediately. Requests for comments from the other contractors were not returned by Tuesday afternoon.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.