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Fort Worth flood controls open gates on possible lawsuits

James Carson's backyard has been his sanctuary for nearly 50 years. Now he's ready to go to court to block any attempt by the city to tear down mature trees as a means to limit flooding.

FORT WORTH The ongoing drought is drying up creek beds and making good neighbors in Southwest Fort Worth.

Just the thought of flood control and erosion prevention opens the floodgates to possible lawsuits on Driskell Boulevard.

James Carson's backyard has been his sanctuary for nearly 50 years.

Everybody moved down here for the woods and the trees, he said. What they want they want to do is knock down everything.

Carson built benches and fountains so he could enjoy the shade from the maple trees that run along the creek just south of Lake Como. We wanted our trees and the undergrowth and the wild look, he said. That's why a lot of people move down here. Because it's a little like the countryside inside the city.

Carson said this is the third time Fort Worth has looked into erosion control on Lower Como Creek. He and his neighbor Steve Maxwell have fought it every time.

In the past, the city avoided cutting down trees by building small levees just beyond fence lines downstream. That seemed to prevent major flooding, but homes further southare still in danger.

The city says their fences are hanging over the creek because erosion is eating away their property.

Engineers made improvements upstream to the spillway at Lake Como when other attempts made flooding worse downstream. Those homes on Driskell Boulevard still floodwhen the drainage outlet can't keep up with the rainfall.

If it comes, I don't think they feel as safe as they should, said Ruben Jimenez, who worksfor the neighborhood association andhears complaints from creekside homeowners on a regular basis.

Hebelieves the neighborhood needs to protect private property. I personally think people are more important than trees, Jimenez said. They can come back and plant more trees, you know.

So the city now wants to look at which houses are truly affected, and what the best remedies might be. Fort Worth is hiring an engineering firm to develop flood models and new controls.

Carson says flooding hasn't been an issue for years, so his neighbors shouldn't worry. He'd like to see creek remain the way it is lined with trees.

It would be a ditch. There wouldn't be any beautification of it. It would just be a ditch. That's all it would be, he said.

Those maple trees have given James Carson peace for decades, and he is willing to fight to keep it that way.

Even if it means another trip to court.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com