Environmental group pushing for Hyde Park move outs

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Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014

Hyde Park flooding

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Hyde Park has seen more than its share of issues, including flooding and contamination, for the last 30 years.

The city has moved out a majority of families, but some are still there. One environmental group is going to the mayor making sure the ones that are left aren't forgotten.

Roger Kimble born and raised in Hyde Park is one of the last ones here.

"I don't drink the water out here. I buy cases of water every week," said Roger Kimble.

Flooding and water contamination have plagued the neighborhood for decades. It's why the city began moving everyone out last year. They just finished moving 30 families out, but there's still about 60 families left. They say they feel like they're in limbo.

"Just sitting waiting. I don't understand why it's taking so long," said Kimble.

An environmental group, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League sent this letter to the mayor wanting to speed the move outs up.

"They need to have some hope that they will be able to leave this area," said Charles Utley with Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

The group wants the city to find the money to move out the remaining residents as soon as possible.

"They call it the toxic soup sydrome when you come into this area," said Utley.

A city study several years ago showed zinc, lead, arsonic in the soil and groundwater. The group says it's causing health issues.

"My mother died with cancer, my brother died with cancer, my father died with heart disease," said Kimble.

Overgrown grass and vacant houses is common, but Kimble says the real problem is a further down.

Neighbors say this ditch is just one of the many neglected issues and after decades of contaminated water they have to make sure they're kids don't play here or really outside at all.

Hyde Park's problems are nothing new, spanning back years and through several mayors.

"It's almost like we've been forgotten all about," Kimble said.

With a new mayor about to step in, Utley hopes they're remembered again.

"Don't continue the legacy of holding but continue the legacy of removing them so that we can be able to say that at last we are able to exit here," Utley said.

Housing and development says they still need almost $5 million to finish the project.

They're planning to ask for about $700,000 of that at the next commission meeting. Housing and Development says moving people out of Hyde Park is a three phase process that will take about four to five years.

They're moving into phase two of that and say they are actually ahead of schedule.

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