June 9, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 48°F


City progress with Jungle moves slow

Residents of the Jungle have yet to move from their home, despite Ithaca’s contested efforts to remove them last fall.

About eight people live in the Jungle, the strip of land that lies next to the railroad tracks behind Wegmans, which is supposed to close to residents in mid-July.

The railroad company and the mayor of Ithaca have not yet released information about the moving process. The city of Ithaca said the railroad company would be charged $1,000 per day if the removal does not happen.

Jennifer Dotson, Common Council member, said there have not been any recent meetings regarding the removal of residents from the Jungle.

“I’m not aware of any plans to talk about it,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean that something isn’t coming down the pipe.”

John Ward, director of homeless services of the Tompkins County Red Cross, said most individuals living there are disenfranchised.

But the Jungle is private property owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad and the city of Ithaca.

“The people that live there are burning rubber; they’re burning wire ­— they’re burning it to get the copper, so they can take it to the recycling center,” Ward said. “And there is a county ordinance where there is no open burning.”

Ward said people often see the smoke and call the fire department.

Joe Lotito, a resident of the Jungle, said summer residents are the main troublemakers and he doesn’t understand why the Jungle has to close.

“People say it’s a rough life down here,” Lotito said. “It’s not that bad.”