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Residents upset over debris drop-off point at Trailhead Park

October 19, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Years ago, when Lehigh Acres resident Holly Sansone looked out her back door, she saw a majestic golf course. Aside from the occasional stray 9-iron, there were no problems.

On Oct. 17, when she looked out the door, she saw a huge pile of storm debris nearly 20-feet high where the front nine used to be, with large trucks bringing in more.

"It's an eyesore, a nightmare and a danger. It's so sad they can use a golf course to put all the debris of Lehigh Acres here," Sansone said.

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Large haulers arrive at Lehigh Acres Trailhead Park to dump horticultural debris from Hurricane Irma. Lee County and FEMA have designated a section of the park as one of several drop-off points.

Lee County and FEMA have designated the section of Lehigh Acres Trailhead Park, on the corner of Joel Boulevard and David Avenue, as one of several drop-off points for debris from Hurricane Irma.

On Oct. 17, armies of large haulers arrived at the site to dump fallen trees, large limbs and other vegetation. According to officials, the Trailhead Park drop-off point is for the haulers only.

Tim Engstrom, communications specialist for Lee County, said the sites are temporary centralized locations, with all the debris eventually to be taken to one central location to be mulched and dispersed.

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There is no timeline for when the debris will be taken away, he said.

Sansone is concerned about the possibility of rodent infestation and fires, especially with the arrival of dry season. She is equally upset that her neighborhood was picked as the dump site for the debris.

"Right now, there are no functioning sprinklers there, no hydrants, and there's no fire station because the roof blew off," she said. "We have the possibility of fire and we're only 25 yards away."

"In a town where we have hundreds of thousands of wooded areas that nobody ever sees, there's 13 acres here that they want to fill with debris 20-feet high," Sansone added. "I'm so upset I can't see straight."

For a list of where to drop off horticultural debris, visit

According to officials, the debris management sites operate under a Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit and in accordance with FDEP and FEMA guidance.

Debris piles are managed in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association's rules.

Engstrom added that odors, pests and sanitary nuisances typically are not associated with horticultural debris and only yard waste will be managed at the Trailhead Park drop-off point.



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