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City to clean, maintain dirty pond in northeast Austin

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Mosquitos, trash, and foul odors are among the complaints from people living in the Windsor Hills neighborhood of Northeast Austin. They say it's the city's fault.

When Carolyn Coffey and her husband first laid eyes on a pond near Dessau Road and Rundberg Lane 37 years ago, they knew they wanted to raise their children here.

"We just happened to notice it and daydream that would be our first home," Coffey said.

A lot has changed since then.

"My kids used to get in there, but I wouldn't allow my grandchildren to get in there now," Coffey said.

Coffey says the once deep, flowing pond is a shallow, dirty, smelly breeding ground for mosquitos.

"It can be anything from infants' dirty diapers, to tire tubes, Clorox bottles, coke bottles and paraphernalia that look like drug things: syringes, things like that. It has to be contaminated," she said.

Coffey says the city's drain pipes allow the garbage to freely flow into their pond.

"I feel like it's the city that has ruined the property. I don't think it's our problem to clean up what the city has caused," Coffey said.

After cleaning it themselves for a number of years including digging it out on their own dime. In 2004 the neighbors went to the city for help.

In 2009, the city held a news conference in Coffey's yard announcing a new partnership to fix problem spots like the pond. But nothing changed.

"Each time it would be a new person, a new employee and we would re-educate them and they would make us promises."

On Monday, members of the Watershed Protection Department announced plans to deepen the pond, add wetland plants and fish that feed on mosquitos.

The project also calls for litter education for folks living up stream.

"We're trying to help them do this one time maintenance and hopefully to get them on the right track so it will be easier to maintain," said Victoria Li, City of Austin Watershed Protection Department Director.

Watershed Department Director Victoria Li says the delay has to do with prioritizing private versus public areas and planning.

Coffey can't let herself get too excited yet, "I'm not sure it's going to happen in my lifetime."

In October, the city will begin testing the soil. The dig is set for this summer and should be completed within a month.

The project is expected to cost less than $50,000.


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