Weather permitting, the cleanup of Hazel Bazemore Park in Calallen may be getting underway this week, Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Pusley announced on Tuesday.

The project, which has seen numerous delays over the past few months due to strict guidelines set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the cleanup, may begin before the end of the week or early next week with the cleanup of a large brush pile, Pusley said. The start date is contingent on when recent rainfall decides to halt its appearance.

"As soon as the weather breaks, we'll get started," Pusley said. "The contractor is lined up and once the weather lets up, they're going to get in there like Patton's army."

The county had learned in March that the TCEQ was investigating the park amidst allegations of illegal municipal dumping.

The TCEQ found that the county had been using brush to help slow erosion at a pair of ravines, both of which are adjacent to and empty into the Nueces River.

A vast amount of tires were also found in one of the ravines, which Pusley has said appear to have been dumped by a business or private company, though that cleanup likely will not begin until sometime in early 2010.

The brush to be removed will be chipped on-site, Pusley said, with some likely to go to the Robstown Area Development Commission and the flower beds around the Nueces County Courthouse.

"The majority of that (mulch) will probably go to the landfill, though," Pusley said.

The TCEQ in October accepted the county project into the TCEQ's Voluntary Cleanup Program, which gives protection from liability to the state of Texas for cleaning up any site under the program.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to get this project underway," Pusley said. "Completion time (for the brush cleanup) is estimated at three weeks, but the contractor thinks he can get it done faster."

In April, preliminary cleanup crews found empty oil drums and even a refrigerator beneath the hundreds of tires that filled one of the ravines.

The county has since budgeted $400,000 for the cleanup at the park, which was originally expected to cost $20,000 before the TCEQ began giving its list of mandates for the project. Also, the county is aware of nesting patterns for wildlife in the area, Pusley said. If they are nesting, work must stop.

Also, volunteers will not be used for the project, since the TCEQ is requiring the county to use a company certified for environmental cleanup.

The brush cleanup is currently estimated to cost the county $80,000 of the money budgeted, Pusley said.