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Plan to address Petronila-area flooding concerns to be decided Monday

Nueces Co. Drainage District #2 Commissioners will be looking to independent consultants for guidance
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Posted at 11:05 PM, Jan 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-24 00:06:03-05

ROBSTOWN, Texas — After almost two hours of discussion in an executive session with Nueces County Drainage District #2 Commissioners and an off-the-cuff dialogue between the county judge and residents in a separate room, it was decided that flood concerns tied to the Petronila-area will finally reach a decision on Monday, Jan. 25 at 6 p.m.

The tabling of that discussion came after one Petronila resident had again come forward with frustration upon hearing that commissioners might withdraw their application for a $550,000 grant from the Texas Water Development Board after Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales introduced a proposal that would include Nueces, Jim Wells, and Kleberg counties.

“In the history of Nueces County, nobody has ever put forth a Nueces County-wide drainage plan. And that’s what was needed, and that’s what’s required,” Canales said. “That’s why it’s so important to get the right information. Nobody is losing. We’re only gaining.”

Karina Amaro, a Petronila resident, was the only one to speak during the public comment period. She also created a change.org petition ahead of the meeting, suggesting Canales could use that funding for other projects, unrelated to her community.

“We need our drainage here,” she exclaimed from a lectern. “I believe we deserve it, like I said the last time. We’ve been waiting for it for 20 years.”

Amaro eventually found herself in a conversation with Canales in a separate room as commissioners discussed matters behind closed doors.

Although it started out in a heated discussion, Amaro was eventually given a copy of the new proposal.

Clenching onto the documents, Amaro said she just wants her community to not be left out anymore.

“We go back to the same thing over and over again,” Amaro said. “What’s going to satisfy the plan is that we get the help that we need, that with this plan, it includes us and getting our drainage the way it’s supposed to be.”

Canales worked to reassure Amaro and others that she would not be taking from anyone.

“The proposal that we have brought forth says we will work together, you will get your whole $550,000 to do drainage in your DD2 area, where you collect taxes, and we will bring the regional piece together,” Canales said. “But there’s no doubt that the people lose if we don’t work together — that’s why it’s so critical that we come over here and we explain how it’s more beneficial to do it in this fashion, and that’s the goal — to be more beneficial.”

According to Nueces County Drainage District #2 commissioner Jesse Rojas III, they have three options:

  1. Maintain their original grant application for $550,000, but at the cost of jeopardizing Canales’ 2.2 million dollar regional plan.
  2. Putting in a joint application with other entities, which would require them to withdraw their FIF (Flood Infrastructure Fund ) application, according to documentation found at that meeting. Rojas said this would be a “win-win for both” his district and the region as a whole.
  3. If no entities are awarded a grant, they would then move to utilize bonds from a November vote that total at about 5.5 million dollars. Although this was approved unanimously by voters, this option would come at the taxpayers’ expense. “That is our last option,” Rojas added.

Commissioners are working with members of International Consulting Engineers for guidance. Rojas said ultimately, he will do what’s best for his community.

“I’ve coined a term here that drainage knows no boundaries,” Rojas said. “Water doesn’t know where it starts or where it ends. It doesn’t know that there is an imaginary line that stops my district from going into another."

“We have an opportunity to do the study at no cost to the drainage district, and that’s what we want. We want to do what’s best for the constituents of the drainage district.”