The cleanup of a Nueces County park in Calallen may be delayed until December, due to a preliminary finding from an environmental assessment that reported the possibility of nesting by protected migratory birds at the park.
Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Pusley said Monday that the firm conducting the environmental assessment sent him a preliminary report that showed the cleanup site might disrupt nesting if cleanup were to take place now.
The project itself has seen numerous delays since the county 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.
In April, cleanup crews found empty oil drums and even a refrigerator beneath the hundreds of tires that filled one of the ravines in Hazel Bazemore Park. Because of an agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, once the county found any new materials that had not been addressed in the TCEQ's initial findings, work had to be stopped.
For the county, what looked at first like a simple removal process estimated to cost the county about $20,000 has ballooned to an estimated $120,000. The environmental assessment being done at the moment is being done at a cost of $17,000, Pusley said.
With the findings, the county must now consider the possibility that the project will be delayed, Pusley said, although the environmental assessment will not be completed for a few more weeks.
"The bottom line is we're going to wait until we get this (report) and see what the environmental assessment says," Pusley said.
In the meantime, the design of plans and specifications for the cleanup are moving forward, he added.
These will include safety precautions, such as shoring up the sides of the ravine to prevent a collapse once the tires and brush start being removed.
The county is also waiting on a final disposition from the TCEQ on request to extend its August deadline for the county to complete the cleanup.