Neighbors pass the hat to clean up junkyard

Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Neighbors of a junkyard are so fed up with the mess, they're taking up a collection to clean it up.

They're asking borough taxpayers to pitch in as well.

The junkyard in the Chena Marina Subdivision west of the city and has been there for about eight years, according to a neighbor.

Upward of 100 old cars, now covered with snow, and a few old buses sit on the approximately three-acre lot.

The owner, Richard Bluel, has not followed borough code and court orders to put up a sight-obscuring fence, according to neighbors. Attempts by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner to contact him Sunday were unsuccessful.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough has sued and obtained court permission to clean up the junkyard, but the cost is $30,000 and work has not begun.

Neighbors pledged to raise $10,000 toward cleanup, hoping to spur the borough to pay the rest.

''They won their lawsuit but they don't seem to be willing to spend the money to go ahead with it,'' said Marty Webb, who lives about 300 yards from the junkyard. ''Maybe if we pitch in some, they'll be willing to clean this place up.''

Assemblywoman Bonnie Williams sponsored an ordinance to spend $20,000 of taxpayer money toward the cleanup effort. The assembly will consider the measure next month.

According to court records, the borough sued Bluel, 40, in 1993 and again in 1996.

Some people live in the old buses on his property.

''That's not a savory bunch down there,'' Webb said.

Webb said Bluel has made attempts to comply with the borough's fence rule, but his undertakings have been substandard. One year he hung black plastic to act as a fence.

''The first good wind storm blew that stuff all over the neighborhood,'' Webb said.

Williams said the borough ought to so something about the mess because it's a health and safety hazard.

''Kids, especially boys, are really attracted to junk piles,'' she said.

She said it's the borough's responsibility to enforce its code.

''I think if we're going to have a code that says you can do this or you can't do that, then we better enforce it,'' Williams said. ''Otherwise, get rid of the darn code.''

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