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MISSION — Brentwood Estates Subdivision residents, upon learning that right-of-way land owned by the United Irrigation District behind their neighborhood was to be used by the Sharyland Independent School District for proposed drainage improvement, objected to the project saying the plan could flood their property.

Residents of the neighborhood, which is located off of Taylor Road north of Business 83, said they worry about possible flooding if the retention canal gets full. Project Engineer Mariano Garcia and board members tried to assure residents that they would do everything possible to keep water from flowing onto their properties.

The group discussed several options with the City of Mission's engineer, the director of public works and the United Irrigation District. Officials said the resolution chosen was the best way to take care of areas that retain water during heavy rainfall at Sharyland High School.

"The main question is are we going to flood their neighborhood? No, we are not changing the elevation of the current diversion ditch," SISD Superintendent Scott Owings said.

Owings explained that about 3,000 students have to walk through four to six inches of water during and after rainstorms. The proposed drainage improvement will keep students dry and stop ruining students' shoes.

Engineers plan to have the north side of the retention canal at its current level while putting a slight slope on the south side. If the canal does get full, the water will flow into the street on the south side where it flows now, he added.

Board member Fred Ramirez said the school district does not want to be accused of forcing water into residents' yards. If water does go into their yards, he said the district should make sure the water would have gone there anyway with a big enough storm.

He also suggested a buffer, or berm, on the north side of the canal to provide more protection for the residents of Brentwood.

One Brentwood resident, Kevin Townsend, said he had standing water in his yard after Hurricane Dolly.

Another resident said if the bond proposal had stated specifics about what was planned with the drainage improvements, their neighborhood would have voted against the measure.

Board Vice President Ricky Longoria said there are other drainage improvements that need to be done on the campus, but explained that the proposed project would solve the main issue.

"We are having to do with what has been given to us. We are all trying to do the best that we can," Longoria said. "Having no engineering experience, we have to rely on the opinions and thoughts of an engineer that has been approved by the board."

Some 'Band-Aid' approaches may have been used in the past because there were no other viable options, board members said. Most of the land in the area was not graded or raised when original construction took place nearly 30 years ago.

Longoria also reminded community members that Garcia has talked with others about the drainage issues, studying several options, before coming up with this solution.

The acquisition of land took place on Nov. 18 and construction should start after final details are mapped out.

Along with flooding issues, residents said they were also concerned with some of the right-of-way land fenced in with their property. Some residents are currently using 22 to 24 feet of the right-of-way land the district is going to purchase. School board officials said when construction starts, any fencing that needs to be removed will be replaced with cedar privacy fencing by the school district.

Other construction items discussed included the near completion of the high school's auditorium. The auditorium is mostly done and should be receiving its capacity certification soon.

In other projects, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Jesse Muñiz discussed options and plans for the district's bus barn. The plans include building a retention pond, redoing parking lots, security lighting, reworking plumbing and electrical in some buildings and designating the use of each building along with accommodating those designations.

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