INVESTIGATES: Team of attorneys ask city to remove recycling dumpsters from Castaway Island Preserve

JACKSINVILLE, Fla. — Locals like Chung-Hae Casler are doing their part.

“We’ve gotta recycle, it’s very important,” she said. “We’re leaving this Earth for our next generation.”

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But now, recycling takes a couple extra steps, ever since the city did away with curbside services last fall.

Like Casler, Chris Bleau is taking his recyclables to Castaway Island Preserve, one of the city’s 14 drop-off sites.

“I don’t think it’s the best location for recycling,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of debris blowing off into the marshland.”

That’s exactly what people like Warren Anderson worry about.

“It’s ruined it. You’ve got cars speeding in and out of it, you’ve got contractors and builders dumping their things. Where it used to be quiet and pleasant for people and their families to walk dogs and have picnics and things like that, it’s a race track and then there’s a big dump right at the end by the intracoastal waterway, one of the most beautiful sites in our community,” Anderson lamented.

The local attorney is president of the Public Trust for Conservation, a group that protects nature in Northeast Florida.

Years ago, Anderson got involved in preserving Castaway Island. Now, his team is fighting to protect it again.

“We’re preparing a lawsuit,” Anderson added. “The island – park – is practically ruined now and we need to take action to restore it to its wonder.”

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The group mailed a complaint Friday to the city of Jacksonville, asking city leaders to remove the recycling dumpsters within 30 days.

“We’re gonna ask the city to take aggressive action to monitor, to patrol, to have personnel out there to break the cycle – the dumping cycle that they’ve created by putting the bins out there,” Anderson said.

Anderson says the Florida Communities Trust, which is under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and helps local governments acquire land, gave the city of Jacksonville a nearly $1.5 million-dollar grant to purchase Castaway Island Preserve.

Anderson says the city agreed to protect the natural resources like water and wildlife. He says nowhere in that agreement did it say the city could use the preserve as a dumping site.

The complaint alleges the city is in violation of the Florida Environmental Protection Act, which prohibits people and governments from polluting air, land, and water.

Anderson says if the city does not comply, the FCT can demand the city give up Castaway Island Preserve.

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Anderson is hoping for the best.

“I am very hopeful and optimistic that the city is going to rethink this,” he said.

Anderson also hopes his team’s efforts will have a ripple effect on some of the city’s other recreational spots being used as recycling sites.

Anderson says if the city does not take action and remove the dumpsters within 30 days, the group will file a lawsuit against the city.

Action News Jax told the city about the complaint Friday afternoon. A spokesperson said the city cannot comment because the city hasn’t seen the complaint.