Thousands of tires collected by local officials still on South Memphis lot months later

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A South Memphis lot is filled with thousands of tires months after they were collected on the property.

They were collected through the Memphis Tire Redemption Program in January – a two-day program put on by the City of Memphis and Shelby County.

It was meant to reduce community blight associated with illegal tire dumping. The event brought more than 50,000 abandoned and/or unused tires to a lot on Florida Street in South Memphis, which city officials and Memphis residents applauded.

>>Memphis Tire Redemption program collects more than 50,000 tires during two-day event

On Tuesday, neighbors told FOX13 it’s unacceptable that thousands of tires are still sitting on the lot months after the fact.

“I feel like it’s devaluing the area. It’s just making the community look bad,” said Bryant Latson, a South Memphis resident.

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A spokesperson for the City of Memphis said a lot of the tires have already been removed from the area, but not all of them.

After speaking with several groups involved in the initiative, FOX13 found that officials’ stories about why tires remain aren’t matching up. There appears to be a “he-said, she-said” situation between the tire recycling company and the local government.

The city spokesperson told FOX13 Investigator Leah Jordan that Liberty Tire said they could handle all of the tires, but as it turns out, there were too many collected.

Upon visiting Liberty Tire Recycling’s property on Elvis Presley Boulevard Tuesday afternoon, a man with the company said that narrative wasn’t completely accurate.

He told FOX13 that Liberty told the City and County that they would not be able to accommodate up to 250 tires per person, which is what the city and county told Tennessee residents they could collect.

That is one possible explanation for why the event location suddenly changed from Liberty Tire to the empty South Memphis lot just one day before the event.

Other neighbors told FOX13 that officials stopped coming by to take the tires away several weeks ago, and that there’s been no recent activity on the lot.

“I need them to do something about it. Make Memphis look good,” Latson said.

The city spokesperson said there’s no way of knowing when the removal process will start back up, but that a statement will be released when details are finalized. She also said they’re “in the process of working with new partners to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

The spokesperson for Shelby County has not responded to FOX13’s request for a statement.