A Haines City truck stop has begun cleaning up a canal that runs behind a mobile home park after News Channel 8 reported about bottles of urine and other trash floating in the waterway.
City officials had given the Pilot Travel Center on U.S. Highway 27 just north of Highway 92 until Tuesday to clean up the canal. On deadline day, two weeks after being cited, Pilot started to make things right.
Haines City Mobile Home Park resident Ellen Jones is much happier now that there's significantly less trash in the canal. She's particularly pleased the company finally sent someone out to remove urine-filled bottles that had been tossed out by truckers.
She credited 8 On Your Side for getting swift action.
"No matter who I called they kept saying, 'We'll work on it. It just takes time. It takes time,' and as soon as you stepped in, it's getting started and it's almost done.
"The stuff that they told me they couldn't do because it wasn't Pilot's property, as soon as it hit 8 On Your Side it was done the same day."
Property manager Allan Walker snapped photos of the long-awaited cleanup.
"There were two managers up over on the other side of the fence and one hourly employee down on this side of the fence … picking stuff up," he said.
"Code enforcement officials went out to the canal to see if Pilot actually came into compliance, and city bosses here tell me while the company is headed in the right direction," Walker said, but "There's still a ways to go."
Trash that remains in the water — at least to the center of the canal, which city officials say is part of Pilot's property — must be removed by late July or the truck stop could still face daily fines upwards of $200.
Haines City officials say they are also concerned about noise pollution at the truck stop. They say Pilot is not parking trucks the way it is supposed to, and they hope to resolve that issue, which should improve noise for neighbors as well.