I-TEAM: How much did it cost taxpayers to relocate Hyde Park residents?

Friday, Sept. 27, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

A News 12 investigation has tracked dozens of deaths related to cancers from residents who lived in the contaminated Hyde Park. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- We told you recently about Hyde Park -- the Augusta neighborhood where health officials could not conclusively confirm a deadly contamination.

Our I-Team uncovered just how big of a cancer cluster was there. Neighbors were dying to prove it was contamination in the water and soil.

Hyde Park residents were relocated by 2016. Now, more than 200 of its neighbors have died from cancer. The price for them was life.

We first Maxine Baez on her couch. She has respiratory problems, Lupus, and lumps that can only be surgically removed.

"I ain’t healed yet,” Baez said. “I done had two surgeries. One in my brain, one in my heart. So you going to tell me that and then you can't tell me where it come from?"

She's fighting for her life. She and her family were relocated out of Hyde three years ago. What's left of the neighborhood is a ghost town. What's left of Baez is pain.

"You cannot tell us that we have not been suffering for this long,” Baez said.

If you ask the city of Augusta -- how much it costs tax payers for the relocation of Hyde Park -- the legal department won't give a clear number. In fact they won't give a number at all. They denied our I-Team's records request.
The city began moving families out back in 2013. It was a long process -- a multi-million dollar one too.

While the city won't break down how they spent your dollars, we'll try.

The city slowly began buying up the houses and transferring deeds. Property records now show the city owns all of Hyde.
Here's how. Home renters got a check that would cover long-term rent anywhere else. Homeowners got the appraised value for their home plus what the city though their land was worth. In many cases, neighbors said they'd walk away with $20,000 to $30,000.

The land grab was essential because engineering is building a massive detention there. It'll help stop flooding in other Augusta areas. So when we factor buyouts, relocation, demolition, construction, the price tag?

Augusta Engineering confirmed at least $15 million and counting.

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