South Park residents in Beaumont are in for some much-needed drainage relief, but not before the city tears up streets and wastewater/drainage infrastructure throughout the neighborhood in a project that could take two years to complete.
At their weekly meeting, City Council members approved the final bid for the South Park drainage project, awarding the project to Allco LLC of Beaumont for some $13 million.
The project will be paid for using Texas Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Program funds of about $11 million for areas of Beaumont most affected by Hurricane Ike. The remaining $2.2 million will come from city taxpayers via the city’s Capital Program. Additionally, Allco will be required to hire low-income individuals from the affected area.
Additional storm sewer boxes, pipes connecting them to the existing system and other interconnects will allow more heavy rainfall to make its way to the Neches River, according to the council agenda. Many portions of South Park will also get new concrete curbs and gutters, replacing the series of ditches and trenches that crisscross the area.
Ward 4 Councilman Jamie Smith said getting the project lined up wasn’t easy.
“We applied for that program a couple of years ago, and we had to jump through some hoops, but it’s well worth doing, especially since we were able to get the funding,” he said.
Having personally seen the destruction water can bring in his South Park neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, Smith said he’s anxious to see how the project turns out.
“It’s been bad. Sometimes the water gets high,” he said. “I can remember during Hurricane Ike, when I went through the area right after the rain. We had to go in one of (the city) trucks to sit up high to get through there. In some areas it gets pretty bad.”
Many in the area said past storms have inundated their homes and streets.
“It was just really hard to get around,” said Faye Johnson, whose home sits directly across from Alice Keith Park. “There was water everywhere. We had to worry about snakes and everything.”
Having lived in her home on Brockman Street for over 40 years, Libby Gleason said she too is glad the project is coming to fruition. As workers labored loudly on the bottom floor of her home, which she said had rotted out due to flooding from Hurricane Ike, Gleason said she welcomes any new drainage project.
“That’s what we’re doing right now,” she said, pointing to new joists in the first floor of her home. “Rita we got a foot of water in here and in Ike we got water.”
Gleason said since Hurricane Rita, the area has been less prone to flooding but still gets more than residents are comfortable with.
“We stayed here for Ike and it was lapping right there,” she said pointing to her front steps. “It didn’t come in my living room, but it did come in by back room and garage.”
Her neighbors across the street weren’t so lucky.
“Whenever it rains, that side of the street is worse,” Gleason said. “It really floods over there.”
Another stumbling block might be access to one’s home. Some streets may be blocked off at varying points during construction, hindering those coming to and from work.
Faye Johnson said although she’s glad the project will begin soon, she’s worried about access to her home with so much construction.
“Getting in and out, that’s gonna be a headache. Especially for people who work,” she said. “I know they wanna build it up, but they shouldn’t do it at our expense.”