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St. Pete CSX railroad tracks haven for alcoholism, drug use and homeless camps

Code enforcement frustrated with lack of action
Posted at 9:51 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 23:11:36-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The tracks that run from 22nd Ave. N to 30th Ave N in St. Petersburg are a hot zone for police responding to 489 calls for service along the stretch over the past year.

“It really bad. I don’t feel safe,” said Quyen Truong who owns Quick Way Laundry and has been in business for 25 years.  

“My laundromat right now, is it goes 50 percent down now the income, people don’t come here at night no more,” Truong said in broken english.”

Rob Gerdes the Director of Codes Compliance Assistance said the city of St. Pete sent an e-mail to CSX about the overgrown property and the problems the homeless are creating for businesses and residents.

“We are frustrated with CSX,” Gerdes said. “We do have two active codes cases on the property right now. And, we are working with the city attorney’s office where we might have to come in here clean up the railroad tracks ourselves and assess CSX for the cost of the work. We feel like CSX is not treating St Petersburg appropriately…they are essentially abandoning not maintaining their railroad tracks here and it’s causing a real problem for people trying to make a living here.”

ABC Action News went through the 489 calls for service. All were not related to the problems along the CSX tracks. But, a majority were calls loitering, trespassing, drug use, suspicious activity, panhandling, and business owners in fear for their lives.

Truong said he calls the police all the time and has recently been getting death threats.

“They tell me if I call officer they will kill me,” Truong said. 

CSX Spokesperson sent this statement to ABC Action News:

“CSX has received a notice from the City of St. Petersburg about overgrown vegetation and debris on CSX property. CSX values our relationship with the City, and we are committed to working with them on next steps.”