Dunbar toxic dump revelation may crater home values
FORT MYERS, Fla. The revelation of toxic sludge in Dunbar may have slashed the value of at least one home.
A bank is refusing to let Tambitha Blanks refinance her home on Jeffcott Street, adjacent to a site where sludge from a city wastewater plant used to be disposed of. Arsenic showed up in the groundwater there as recently as 2012.
“We’re kind of stuck in a hard place right now, not being able to do what we thought we could do,” Blanks said.
The appraiser told her it affects the value and ability to refinance for anyone within 3,000 feet of the site, which is bounded by Henderson Avenue on the west, Midway Avenue on the east, Jeffcott Street on the south and South Street on the north.
“You can’t sell it,” Blanks said. “I mean, what do you do?”
Blanks grew up in the area and even played on the site when she was a child, furthering her frustration.
“If you know there’s toxic stuff near the property that you’re looking at, you’re not going to buy it,” she said. “That’s just evident. I mean, who would?”
The latest completed tests don’t show any arsenic on the site, or any threat to the groundwater, but a new, city-commissioned test is underway.
Blanks is resigned to waiting until the tests are done and the site is cleaned up. But an attorney representing the community is concerned that could take years.
“We’re pushing to try to get this site cleaned up as fast as possible,” attorney Ralf Brookes said. “Even at an expedited time frame, it could still take a year and a half, two years to get this site actually cleaned up.”
The attorneys representing the community also say they’re looking into the decreased property values at part of their potential lawsuit against the city.