The needs are overwhelming. The Dallas city budget is tight. That's why taxpayers are being asked this November to pass a $1 billion bond issue to pay for the most urgent of needs.
But tucked away in that billion dollar budget is an $800,000 project that WFAA has learned the city could or should fix for free.
What some may see as a case of high water hysteria has created a river of fear for some Far North Dallas residents.
A drama that could turn life-threatening.
"It was very dangerous," said resident Tracey Abbott. "It is very scary. And it used to not be that way. It changed when the fence went in."
That's right, this is a story about a fence, and a pond, and the neighbors who say their yards now flood because of that new fence.
They say before the fence was built last year, pond flood water would gently spill over a berm into the storm sewers.
Records show their new neighbor who recently bought the land told the City he was only building a small, wrought iron fence that would not impede the flow.
What popped up instead was what neighbors call a wooden damn that re-channels flood water into their yards.
Residents say they have complained to Dallas City Hall and their council member, Lee Kleinman.
"They've done nothing about the danger," said Shelia Schlosberg, who has spearheaded the fence opposition. "We've told them so many times about the safety hazards and about all the rules and regulations that city code [has] and they refuse to do anything."
Even more upsetting, they say, is an email they uncovered between the fence-building neighbor and Councilman Kleinman from last year.
Fence guy to Kleinman...."Unfortunately I am still having trouble with a few of the neighbors."
Kleinman writes back:... "Regarding problem with the neighbors... that's an understatement. They have asked me and staff to meet with them to discuss options."
So Kleinman came up with a solution.
Rather than force the owner to tear down the fence, on the city's proposed billion dollar bond program web page map, a blue dot appears right where that fence is located. Click on it and you will find details of a proposal to spend $800,000 in bond money to re-engineer the storm sewers under the street.
We asked Councilman Kleinman if it wouldn't be more cost effective to simply force the fence guy to tear the fence down since it might not follow code compliance.
"I would agree it would be less expensive to enforce or have a property owner to correct a problem if the property owner created it," said Keinman.
The fence owner declined to talk on camera because some of the neighbors are suing him. But he says he's not tearing down the fence. City officials declined an on-camera interview, and say they are now reviewing their handling of the fence case.
But since we started asking questions, neighbors say for the first time the City admits a mistake may have been made.
"The actual construction may not be wholly consistent with the design as permitted," Assistant Director of the Trinity Watershed Management Susan Alvarez said.
The question is, will taxpayers have to pay nearly a million dollars because the City failed to properly enforce its rules?
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