Dunbar woman leads community conversation on toxic sludge

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A woman living near a toxic sludge site in Dunbar is quickly turning into a local leader.

Crystal Johnson lead a conversation at a community-only meeting was held at the Fort Myers Stars Complex on Edison Avenue Wednesday night that focused on solutions that would fix the toxic sludge in their back yards.

“It’s also about hearing the community. I definitely want them to have a lot of input and say whats going on and what they need and things like that,” Johnson said.

SERIESClick here for complete coverage of Dunbar toxic sludge site

Johnson teamed up with All Faiths Unitarian Congregation on McGregor Boulevard to survey Dunbar neighbors about water and air quality.

The plan is to apply for an Environmental Protection Agency grant to help offer aid to families living near the sludge site, install new piping in homes and give families the option of doing their own water testing.

This grant would give the community around $100,000, and it will be used to help the community get organized, and get the work started.

“We are working day and night to get the stakeholder and community committee done,” Robinson said.

More: Dunbar sludge: health, property value and mistreatment concerns

“It’s important because we need to come together,” Johnson said. “This is all about coming together and coming up with resolutions to whatever issues anyone is facing.”

The City of Fort Myers held a public information last week, but attendees say they didn’t learn much and are still left with questions.

“I feel like these people aren’t being heard,” Johnson said. “When you (city leaders) come talk to us with boards and video prompts, you aren’t having a conversation with us.”

The grant team is meeting with city leaders Thursday, Feb. 1 at 1 p.m.

The community will still need to get the green light from city leaders to meet the EPA grant deadline on Feb. 16. A decision should be available in March, and if the grant is awarded, the committee will begin working in September.

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