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TxDOT not keeping Hillcrest park promise, attorneys say

The new Harbor Bridge is being built next to residential areas in a predominantly Black neighborhood. A nonprofit representing area residents has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation and against the state’s transportation agency alleging noncompliance with an agreement to improve parks in the affected neighborhoods.

The Texas Department of Transportation has not honored an agreement made in 2015 with the Federal Highway Administration to rehabilitate H.J. Williams Park, T.C. Ayers Park, and the Booker T. Washington Elementary School in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Corpus Christi, according to a complaint filed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The predominately Black and Hispanic area lies in the shadow of the new Harbor Bridge construction. A 2017 agreement with the FHA led to buyouts in the neighborhood, which is now only sparsely populated.

The complaint concerning park improvements states that failure to enforce the agreement allows discrimination against minorities and violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Texas RioGrande wants the feds to investigate why TxDOT has not complied, supervise enforcement going forward, and fine any relevant parties involved in not carrying out the 2015 agreement. TxDOT had engaged the city of Corpus Christi to perform some of the park improvements, and Texas RioGrande’s complaint accuses the state agency of inadequate oversight, resulting in delays.

The city said it has set aside about $6 million for the projects but might need more funding. In 2021, the City Council contracted with engineers Halff & Associates to create plans for park enhancements. City Manager Peter Zanoni said the firm will meet with residents within 60 days to solicit feedback on its proposals.

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