Abandoned homeless camp found along the Chemung River

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – An abandoned homeless tent camp littered with garbage, stolen bikes, clothing, housewares, and canned goods was recently discovered along the Chemung River near Elmira’s Dunn Field, according to Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

The camp is in a wooded area, adjacent to the river, on the Northside of the waterway, kitty-corner from the Dunn Field Boat Launch on the city’s Southside. The area is known as Jones Island (located between the river and Newtown Creek) and is in the city of Elmira.

“I’ve never seen a more disgusting or bigger pile of junk, household items and rotting garbage,” said Pfiffer. “More than 25 bike frames and bike parts litter the ground. I suspect the bikes and parts and most of the other items were stolen. It looks like bike repairs and bike disassembly was done there. I estimate there is 1,500 pounds of debris. It had to have taken months for it all to be carried to the site.”

The site is secluded in a heavily wooded, difficult to get to area that can only be accessed on a 1,500-yard-long and narrow foot path along the river. The trash includes unusual items such as: a wheelbarrow, golf clubs in a golf bag, nails for nail guns, cosmetics, baby strollers, baby clothes, suitcases, kerosene heaters, a broken guitar, a shopping cart and dozens of empty plastic storage bins. There are three tents containing mattresses and bedding.

The site was discovered a few weeks ago by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials in Elmira. They contacted Chemung River Friends and asked the organization help with the clean-up of the site.

The camp had been there since summer.

“Because the camp is so secluded, it is difficult, if not impossible to get trucks or four-wheelers to the site to haul away the debris,” Pfiffer said. “On Thursday (12/12) DEC officials used a bulldozer to create a primitive dirt access road to the camp. Once the dirt road freezes DEC employees and River Friends staff will use a dump truck and other heavy equipment to remove the debris.”

Pfiffer says if the debris isn’t removed it will be washed into the river during the next high water event or winter ice flow.

The site is being investigated by DEC and the Chemung County Sheriff’s office.

Anyone of has information about the site is asked to contact the Chemung County Sheriff’s office or Chemung River Friends at 607-846-2242 or riverfriends@stny.rr.com

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