First Impressions? Or Is It Time To Clean The City?

I have written and spoken about ‘First Impressions’ a number of times over the years, particularly when it comes to our city. Truly, it could be any city for that matter.

While the recent rains here in the Golden Spread have been both a blessing and a curse (flooding and damage vs. much-needed moisture, especially in the farmlands), it has almost single-handedly brought to light how trash-laden Amarillo really is.

Let’s take Lawrence Lake for example. This is known to our city leaders at Playa Lake 6. As the heavy rains and subsequent flooding began to fill this otherwise large debris-collecting hole-in-the-ground, what has been blown and/or tossed into it since the last time it crested floated to the top and was easily visible, even more so for the guests in the hotels located just across the street. Toss in homeless encampments, feral cats and countless geese and that “lake” and its banks take on the look and feel of a post-hurricane strike on a third-world country.

I am only being honest here.

The City of Amarillo held a meeting Monday, June 5th at the Office of Emergency Management to address flooding issues and provide updates for the media regarding plans moving forward. 

I was surprised to learn a few things. One, that the Playa Lakes around Amarillo all have names and numbers. I also learned that, with only one exception, they all have at least one pump, used to move collected water to other locations and waterways. The exception is Playa Lake 7 or Greenways Lake. The city is using a temporary pump apparently being leased for just under $100,000.00 though I am not sure how long that lease is for. Seems kind of pricey. 

But here was the one that sorta caught me off guard. Donny Hooper, Director of Public Works for the City of Amarillo – while explaining that the city is not pumping water from the Playa Lake known as Bennett Lake because that water gets pumped to the aforementioned Lawrence Lake and that thing is what has caused all the flooding in the Paramount and Olsen area, also mentioned Lawrence Lake is subsequently pumped to Medi-Park and Thompson Park Lakes. These are actual lakes where people picnic, walk, jog and fish. 

This information came after it was made clear that people are to stay out of the flood waters, especially those created by Lawrence Lake. Police Chief Martin Birkenfeld noted that water is, “Unsanitary. People riding bikes and wading through it” are placing themselves at risk. 

Remember the debris, trash, feral cats and other discards I mentioned earlier? Hey, a day or two after a truly heavy rain, the Amarillo Police Department dive team pulled a body from Lawrence Lake. It is not clear how long it has been in that water.

Debris From Olsen Street Flooding

So, if that water is as filthy and contaminated as we are being warned it is, what, then, should the concern be for Medi-Park and Thompson Park lakes? Just how big is this health concern?

All that being said, my man Ron White has made famous the line, “You can’t fix stupid.” Proof of that can be seen by the number of cars and trucks left stranded in the middle of flooded roads. Roads clearly marked as closed with bright, orange barricades and other warning signs. We have witnessed a number of unfixable human blunders from the front steps of the building in which our stations are located.

Meanwhile, the geese are enjoying the expanded aquatic playground while we enjoy the view from our temporary lakefront property and the debris the slowly receding water is leaving behind. 

The thoughts and opinions shared here may or may not reflect that of KGNC, its staff, management or Alpha Media.