Baytown neighbors worried children, animals could fall into open drains

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 27, 2014 at 11:12 PM

BAYTOWN, Texas – Neighbors in the Bay Oaks Harbor community of Baytown are voicing concerns after a road paving project has left them with a potential danger.

The city is giving the small neighborhood paved roads, which is a big plus for many neighbors. However, some residents say that’s being overshadowed.

Road crews have opened up large openings leading to storm drains in the area, and there’s a lot of worry that a small child or pet could fall in.

“It would suck in a child or even an adult,” said grandmother Teena Weir. “Immediately, I freaked out.”

Weir first voiced her concerns to the contractor hired by the city.

“I said, ya’ll aren’t going to cover that? They said, no,” recalled Weir. “He said, a small animal could get trapped, but not a child.”

Weir then used her 7-year-old grandson to prove a point.

The child crawled into one of the gaping holes, and his entire body fit. His grandmother took a number of photos and posted them on Facebook.

“There’s nothing to grab and pull up on,” said Weir. “If he went down it, he would be in the bay.”

Weir claims her repeated calls to the city went unreturned.

The city installed temporary rods in front of the openings on Thursday evening, hours after KHOU 11 News began working on a report.

“They had not responded to me until you got involved. They thought wow, somebody important might look at this,” said Weir.

A city spokesperson said that is not the case.

She said the city took action as soon as it received a Facebook message from Weir.

“I don’t think she got the response as quickly as she wanted, but then she reached out with another channel, and we’re really glad she did,” said Baytown spokeswoman Patti Jett.

Jett said the city appreciates the concerns and is working on coming up with a permanent solution to keep neighbors at ease.

“We feel there’s solutions out there, and we’ll be able to devise one that will be appropriate,” said Jett.

The city of Baytown also released the following written statement:

“The drainage system is part of a road paving project in the Bay Oak Harbor subdivision. The road being paved is adjacent to open drainage ditches, and both will tie into a common drainage system. This is done with double-inlets that take rain water from both the street and the ditch. The opening on ditch side must be large enough to accommodate the flow of water from the ditch. It is a system used in many places when you have both curbed streets and drainage ditches.

"We understand the concern that residents have and appreciate their bringing this to our attention. We’ve contacted our contractor and asked that a temporary barrier be erected around the inlet while we work with the design engineer to innovate a permanent solution.”

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