by BRAD WATSON
DALLAS – It’s a lot of landscaping, paid for by your tax dollars, that’s going brown.
The City of Dallas spent $350,000 of tax money on landscaping in the median of Samuell Boulevard. But many of those plants are now dying, because the city isn’t watering them.
TxDOT widened the 2.5-mile stretch of Samuell from Interstate-30 for about $21 million from 2007 to 2010, using a mix of federal and city dollars.
The project included a new median, covered exclusively with city money, with landscaping of 624 crepe myrtle trees and an irrigation system.
TxDOT watered the plants under the deal until the end of May. And then the watering stopped.
With not enough rain and long dry spells, the result is obvious for many of the trees along the median.
The nearby Buckner Terrace Homeowner’s Association worked with the city and state on widening Samuell. Residents say they consider the front door to their neighborhood. And many of them, like Carolyn Johnson, say they’re not happy,
“The crepe myrtles are dying because the irrigation system is not working or turned on,” she said.
Asked by the city council to explain, the Dallas Director of Public Works and Transportation Rick Galceran said the city hoped the neighborhoods would take over watering the median when TxDOT’s responsibility ended in May.
“We gave many opportunities for the community to take over,” Galceran said.
“It doesn’t look like nobody [sic] has taken over,” he continued.
That provoked an angry response from the homeowners and one of the council members representing the area over the brown landscaping paid with green tax dollars.
“There was never an agreement that the homeowners association would take control of the median after two years,” Johnson said.
And glaring at Galceran, council member Carolyn Davis said, “So to say that the community was going to water four miles of crepe myrtles, that is not true? And I want to make it for the record, Rick.”
TxDOT said the agreement with the city is clear.
The city took over maintenance June 11. Galceran said the streets department will now take over watering.
And Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm promised action.
“We’ll bring you back a plan of options of how to deal with it,” she said.
Someone turning on the sprinklers would be a start.
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