CHICAGO (CBS) — Weeds, trash, barbed wire, and shards of glass on the ground – people in the Avalon Park neighborhood say a stretch of vacant lots is more than just an eyesore.

It’s a safety hazard. And neighbors told CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas they need changes.

“This is horrific,” said Linda Hudson.

The intersection of 78th Street and Woodlawn Avenue is home to a row of beautiful new homes. But as Hudson explained, “Look at all the garbage.”

The beauty stops about halfway down the block.

“We want to get this cleaned up before something happens,” she Hudson said.

First, she showed us an unfenced concrete foundation with no house.

“There’s a tree growing in the middle of this,” Hudson said.

Roy Robinson, who lives across the street, said he has complained about the stretch of vacant properties at community meetings for years.

“It’s a danger for kids wanting to climb over and you never know who could fall and hurt themselves,” Robinson said.

He also knows not to let his dog get too close to one lot on the corner – home to a truck bed full of debris and several trailers for an old moving company.

We found a hole in the fence on the side of that lot. It is right next to the alley, and just on the other side of that fence, there are shards of broken glass on the ground.

“Any kid could go through there,” Hudson said.

In the back of the lot, a fence is toppled over with barbed wire on the ground.

“It’s very difficult, because I wanted to write to the owner to say, ‘Hey, clean this up,’” Hudson said. “But I can’t find an address.”

After we reached out to the city, they said they are now working with the Department of Law to figure out what they can do legally to clean the properties up.

“Re-beauty, refurbish, do whatever it takes to either turn this into a park or turn it over to a developer,” Robinson said.

In the meantime, a city worker showed up Tuesday and started taking pictures – collecting proof of the problem. And now the neighborhood hopes for a solution.

County records show a confusing list of transfers of ownership on the lots over the years. We asked the city to confirm who the current owners are, and they referred us to the county.

We asked Cook County about the land ownership near that corner. They referred us back to the city.


Tim McNicholas