SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents in Sarasota’s Central Cocoanut neighborhood have been pleading for help for months. They say they have been living in a noisy, dust-filled environment which is constantly raising concerns about their wellbeing. Some homes in the historic neighborhood sit a stone’s throw away from a concrete recycling facility, which they say is causing the mess.

Residents first contacted 8 On Your Side about the issue in 2021. Since then, city leaders have taken some steps to address their concerns.

Earlier this year, city commissioners approved a $429,359 contract with Spectrum Underground to reconstruct the deteriorating road leading up to the recycling facility, plus make drainage improvements to the area. When we visited the site Monday, the work on the roadway was underway.

Residents didn’t think the road project would make much of a difference and pushed forward in hopes of a more permanent solution.

Commissioner Jen Ahearn Koch, who has taken up the issue, has explained to 8 On Your Side in the past, the city is doing what it can to help but explained the county, as well as the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, also have partial authority over the industrial operation. She presented to the rest of the commissioners on Monday, taking them back in time and giving them a clearer picture of the property and how the amount of work on the site has changed over the last decade.

“We, as a city, are doing everything in our authority that we can do,” said Ahearn Koch. “We, as a body, can act and help citizens with this issue. I would like the five of us to come with creative solutions to create some sort of relief of solution to residents.”

Several residents spoke before the commission Monday explaining how the dust-filled air and sounds of heavy machinery has impacted their lives. One resident played a video showing plumes of dust floating outside their homes.

“I literally see clouds come through, drifting towards our street and then I go inside. Some days when I check my mail, it coats my face,” said resident Autumn Beckett. “Fully outdoor industrial activities are not compatible in a residential, leafy green historic neighborhood three blocks from our bay.”

Commissioners agreed with residents, saying something must be done to address the issues associated with the industrial facility.

“I am just looking at these photos, I mean… It is kind of sick to even look at and see a pile of rubble right behind somebody’s yard. How do you even live like that?” said Vice Mayor Kyle Battie. “We’ve got just concrete… no pun intended, but concrete evidence right there of an actual health hazard staring us right in the face.”

Commissioners discussed a number of possibilities from purchasing the property, which was recently appraised by the city for $1,650,000, to rezoning the land.

“The greatest power that we have as a local body is through our zoning. We can make a piece of dirt worth a lot depending on what you can do with it,” said Commissioner Hagen Brody. “I feel like maybe a possibility for us is to empower city staff to approach the owners of the property and negotiate with them to do something with the zoning to make it lucrative enough for them to want to sell it and maybe they would become willing.”

Mayor Erik Arroyo brought up the possibility of fully enclosing the facility and possibly taking legal action.

“We have the ability to enforce public and private nuisances. It is well within our authority to start an injunction proceeding in the court, even if it is a temporary injunction till we figure this out,” said Mayor Arroyo.

Commissioners ended up voting to direct the city attorney to research all available options for the site and bring them back at a later date.

Residents who attended the meeting told 8 On Your Side they were pleased to see forward movement in an issue that has been impacting them for years.

“Until this last year, the problem was being ignored,” said resident Arthur Lindemanis.