Safety questions surround debris pile near Lexington Middle School

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Wa-Ke Hatchee Park debris pile. (Credit: WINK News)

A massive debris pile has built up behind Lexington Middle School, and now, work is underway to remove it.

The dump site is at Wa-Ke Hatchee Park, which has a recreational facility, a dog park, tennis courts, and more.

It’s all temporarily closed, but there is a pile of debris is filled with mattresses, fridges, chairs, and anything you’d find inside a home.

Wa-Ke Hatchee Park debris pile. (Credit: WINK News)

Those items will stay in the pile, while other materials will be filtered out and moved to a landfill.

“Most of the debris coming from Fort Myers Beach and the Iona area,” said Douglass Whitehead, director of Lee County Solid Waste.

Whitehead said the site’s location was pre-approved two years ago. He called it a good spot, considering it has access to main roads like Summerlin, allowing easy access to the hardest-hit areas in the county.

Crews have moved approximately 300,000 cubic yards of debris out of Fort Myers Beach.

Yard waste is being ground up and moved out to people using it. Construction demolition material is going in tractor trailers and taken to landfills.

It is great news for residents looking to get rid of the aftermath of Ian, but at the Lee County School Board meeting Tuesday, the news wasn’t so great for parents.

“We did receive an email regarding the dump, I guess, is what you would call it behind Lexington and concerns about safety there could be, are you in a position to address that?” asked school board member Chris Patricca.

Superintendent of Schools Doctor Christopher Bernier took board member questions during the meeting Tuesday.

“When I drove in there, it just seemed overpowering,” said Gwynetta Gittens, lee county school board district 5 incumbent.

“We believe, and I honestly can say our students don’t go over to that area. We are divided by a fence and a road,” said Bernier. “What we’re doing is the material we’re moving it out quick enough that there’s not enough time for decomposition.”

Wa-Ke Hatchee Park debris pile. (Credit: WINK News)

Whitehead said Wa-Ke Hatchee Park could be closed for a while longer. There is no word on how long they’ll need to keep this debris site.

On a brighter note, tens of thousands of cubic yards of materials have already been moved out of the pile, and it will keep happening in the coming days.

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