HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – When the roadwork began on Hollywood Boulevard in July 2017, so did the rumblings in the 2900 block of Polk Street in Hollywood.
"We were never informed of anything," said Alicia Brown who lives in a condo directly across the street from a vacant lot.
For months, she and her neighbors have been dealing with the sights, the sounds, the smells, and a steady stream of dump trucks, dust and disruption -- ever since the lot across the street from their building became a construction staging area.
"We thought they were going to build something," said Carmen Muñoz, who also lives in the condo complex.
Piles of concrete, dirt, gravel, construction debris and equipment now fill the lot.
At times, the piles have been higher than the nearby sound wall that backs up to Interstate 95.
"That's, obviously, a mess," said Joyce Hogenson, another neighbor.
"They'll be out here before 7 o'clock in the morning," Clifford Nipper said. "How's that fair?"
Alan Boucher serves on the condo board, and said he and his neighbors are forced to wait for several minutes at a time because of the line of dump trucks blocking the entrances to their condo parking lot.
"There is no concern for the neighborhood," Frank Mandarino said. "Our little community is being beat up." Mandarino said he took his concerns to city and state transportation officials. He also reached out to the Leave to it Layron team.
A Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson told the LITL team a FDOT contractor began work in July 2017 to improve Hollywood Boulevard, from City Hall Circle to Dixie Highway.
We've learned that the contractor, Acosta Construction, leased the vacant Polk Street property from a private owner in order to stage construction materials for the road improvement project because there was not enough space at the project site.
FDOT said the material stored in the staging area has either been removed from the road construction project site on Hollywood Boulevard, or is new material being delivered for use on the project. The neighbors who reached out to the LITL team wanted to know why their neighborhood was picked.
"This was a site that was available," said Sergio Vigoa, a construction superintendent with Acosta. "(The lot) was close to the project, and it was the ideal location for the stockyard."
Vigoa acknowledged he had spoken with Mandarino about the complaints.
"What I stated to him is I would do anything that he needs me to do to help them out," he said. Vigoa said that would include higher fencing around the lot, lowering the piles, and even making sure the truck traffic starts at certain time. "I can arrange that, too," he said.
Vigoa spoke with us for several minutes at the staging area, but then walked away claiming he was uncomfortable.
"This yard is inspected by FDOT for environmental issues," he said. "There are inspection reports. They've all passed. There have been no issues," he said before walking away.
FDOT told the LITL team environmental staff inspected the staging area site to ensure that it complies with environmental standards.
When Acosta acquired the lot, we're told they met with a representative from the city to review the staging area. We're still waiting for our messages to city staff to be returned.
FDOT's spokesperson said a representative met with Mandarino on site, and learned of the neighbors' concerns. We're told a list of items that needed to be addressed were provided.
There was also a request for compensation to be provided for damages to the condo complex from the dust. FDOT said it advised Mandarino it would present the neighbors' concerns to its contractor and also provided information on filing a damage claim.
The LITL team was told FDOT officials sent an email to Acosta, directing them to address several items concerning the staging area and included the list of concerns from Mandarino. Acosta was also advised of Mandarino's stated intent to file a claim for damages.
FDOT also said concerns about the project, the staging area, and truck traffic are a standing agenda item at its Project Progress meetings. "We will continue to work with our contractors to minimize impacts to all the project neighbors," the statement read.
The project is expected to be finished in the summer of 2019.