Man blames North Side drainage project delay for illegal dumping

Homeowners not bought out 'don't feel safe,' neighbor says

SAN ANTONIO – Large dumpsters dot a neighborhood that saw major flooding in 2013 and at least 15 houses were demolished to make way for the Barbara Drive Drainage Project that’s temporarily on hold.

A spokeswoman for the city’s Transportation and Capital Improvements department said many of the 19 homes that remain, part of $7 million buyout by the city, are awaiting the results of environmental assessments.

But she said work is expected to be back on schedule next week as soon as several homes are cleared for demolition.

Still Adam Alcoces, a neighbor not included in the buyout, said the delay has added to the problem of illegal dumping.

“A lot of people are under the assumption (that), 'It’s going to be picked up anyway. Let me just drop it off here,'” Alcoces said.

He said he even confronted someone in the middle of the night with a trailer full of old furniture.

“No violence, but there was a lot of words thrown at each other. The gentleman got into his truck and took off,” Alcoces said.

The TCI spokeswoman said no one should take that kind of risk in confronting someone; they should instead call police.

She also said city staff reported illegal dumping over the past week has been minimal, only a few pieces of furniture, but they will have those items cleared away as soon as possible.

The spokeswoman explained the majority of what they saw, including large black trash bags in the dumpsters, was debris collected by the contractor.

However, Alcoces said what’s disturbing is that vagrants have broken into several boarded up houses.

“Let’s be honest. You don’t feel safe,” he said.

Roberto Trevino, who represents District 1 on City Council, said, “We need to make sure that as we’re doing projects, they don’t create this collateral damage. We’re sorry this is happening.”

Trevino said he will contact the San Antonio Police Department about increasing its visibility in the neighborhood.

Alcoces said he’s spoken to officers patrolling the area who told him that they’re aware of the situation.

“The residents that were bought (out) were taken care of,” Alcoces said. “Now it’s time for the residents still here to be taken care of.”

Trevino said his office is working closely with the Shearer Hills Neighborhood Association.

The TCI spokeswoman said the design phase of the project should be completed by September of next year. She said it will include a deeper and wider drainage channel lined with green space. Work on the 17-month project, with a $5 million construction price tag, is due to begin in January 2017.

Trevino said, “This is a very, very important project. We’ve got to get it right.”

The neighborhood is north of the flood prone Olmos Basin.