Tire troubles overwhelm resident

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks A Melrose woman said a prior tenant left thousands of tires on her property when he moved, leaving her to deal with state environment violations until Curry County stepped in and obtained a more than $14,000 state grant to have them removed.

Sharna Johnson

Ruth Ashley of Melrose is just plum tired out after more than three years trying to get rid of mountains of tires on her property.

She says the tires were left by a former tenant.

Under pressure from state environment agents and lacking the money and manpower to do it herself, Ashley said Monday she was relieved when she heard Curry County would be helping her get them moved.

The county announced Thursday it received a $14,375 grant from the New Mexico Solid Waste Bureau to help Ashley clean her property.

County Grant Writer Rachel Visser said the county requested the grant because the tires had to be removed and properly disposed of but the job was more than one person could reasonably accomplish.

“The state determined that site was a health hazard and a fire hazard. We had to get an excavating and operating truck to take the tires to Denver City, Texas.”

“It was such a large amount of tires, there was no way…(Ashley) as a regular citizen could even attempt to move that amount of tires.”

Visser said the grant will pay to remove 3,600 tires of varying sizes from the land on Curry Road AL, north of Melrose.

Ashley was not aware of the grant award when interviewed Monday and said all she knew was she was finally getting some relief.

She said when a tenant who was renting her farm vacated the property about four years ago, she realized she was stuck with a problem.

She said she knew the tires were there, but had been assured they would be removed.

“He would always say he had a chipper coming,” she said, but instead the tire piles just continued to grow.

Officials with the state environment department could not be reached for comment regarding any enforcement action that might have been taken against Ashley’s former tenant.

The prior tenant could not be located for comment.

Ashley said the environment department started pressuring her after the tenant left, telling her to properly dispose of the tires at a licensed hazardous waste facility.

She said she understood the concern but struggled to address it.

“It’s an eyesore out there plus all the critters that could bed down in them,” she said. “It cost me to haul them… I don’t have the money.”

Though Ashley said she took four or five trailer loads to the nearest licensed rubber receptacle in Denver City, Texas, the piles barely shrunk and the cost and labor involved became more than she could handle.

“Oh heavens, I wouldn’t even begin to count them. There’s piles and piles out there,” she said, explaining she was charged extra when she unloaded larger tires from tractors and heavy equipment.

Ashley said she’s glad the county stepped in and excited to get rid of the tires, with three truckloads gone already.

She said the property belonged to her husband’s family and was passed to her when he died. It is now home to her newly-married son and Ashley said she hopes they improve it over coming years as they build their family.