Dallas Paupers Cemetery Flooding a Concern, Graves Underwater

A business owner is pushing for something to be done after a city-owned cemetery flooded in Dallas.

Edward Spoto said standing water is present almost year-round in a low-lying corner of the cemetery he believes is the portion dedicated to infants and children.

Spoto bought Crossroads Audio, a company located in a building that backs up to the cemetery, in 2001.

"The previous owner was dealing with the city trying to get the standing water dealt with from a mosquito perspective," Spoto said. "Once we bought the building and came back here and investigated more and realized it was a cemetery, we noticed that not only was there standing water here almost all year-round, but they're also graves underneath."

Over the years, he's reported the standing water to the city, but said nothing has been done.

According to Spoto, the city has sent people to the site, but without any results.

"I've called code compliance for mosquito control, and then I've also called Dallas 311 and used their app, and tried to go that route. I've called Parks and Recreation, and I've tried several times to email and call the representative for the area and most response has been - 'Yes, it's flooded,' but no response other than, 'Yes it's flooded,'" Spoto said. "Nobody has ever come to do anything. It's never been drained. It's a constant problem."

Not only does Spoto worry it's a health issue, but he's concerned from a moral standpoint about the graves he said are below the water.

"It's kind of gross. It's a shame because since it's an indigent cemetery, there is really nobody to advocate for the people that are here. Very many people don't come and visit the gravesites because most of the people are either unknown or had no family. That's why they ended up here in the first place," Spoto said. "This is from my morality perspective, that this is a bad thing - not just a health problem, but the fact that there is somebody's child underwater and it has been that way for decades is just a shame."

NBC 5 reached out to leaders in the City of Dallas Wednesday. The city is aware of a flooding problem at the cemetery. It flooded in 2004 and it flooded in 2015, according to city spokeswoman Sana Syed.

The cemetery has been identified as an area that needs improvements, but there is no quick or cheap long-term solution, according to Syed.

The city would need additional funding, and that could be addressed through the 2017 bond program, according to Syed.

Parks and Recreation Department Manager Andrea Hawkins told NBC 5 the cemetery is in a flood plain, and poses unique challenges for drainage because it's landlocked.

Hawkins said because of recent heavy rains in North Texas, water is not draining off as usual.

A short-term solution will be for them to use pumps to drain the water, which Hawkins said they will do and have done, in low-lying areas.

She also said the department has been using mosquito dunks to make sure it's not a breeding site for insects.

"We understand, we are conscious and we are doing everything we can," Hawkins said.

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