Is Dickinson Doomed?

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You know something is very wrong when the Chamber of Commerce President says her town may be DOOMED, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Dickinson! And we’re on the case as the finger pointing begins in the wake of the growing Creekside Apartment scandal.

The wooden boards used to nail shut the front doors of the now shuttered Creekside Apartment complex are being ripped open.

But just for a few moments. We had asked the owners of Creekside to let us tour the former home for two hundred low-income families.

Families forced to leave when the city condemned the place last December. After months of a very public campaign to shut the apartment complex down. A public led by the mayor Sean Skipworth during his campaign for re-election.

“And I think we have reached a point where it is simply not a safe place to be,” said Skipworth.

From the air you can see Creekside today as a 15-acre wide ghost town, right off the key intersection of 517 and the Gulf Freeway.

Evangelina Lucio was the manager when the city forced tenants out last year.

“It kind of hurts because you kind of wonder what happened to the people. they were at home, and you come up from under them and take it from them,” expressed Evangelina Lucio.

“It did a lot of harm to the owners of the community but to the residents that were here,” continued Lucio.

Photos were used to convince the city’s Building Standards Commission that Creekside was too dangerous to allow for simple repairs.

Used to suggest tenants were living like this. With open living room walls, dangerous exposed uninsulated wires that had caused fires.

The owners now claim that wall wasn’t taken down by neglect but by a mentally ill resident.

“That picture was used to show this place needed to be condemned,” said Wayne Dolcefino

“Yeah. No, there were repairs being made to it. And that’s all it needed was repairs,” replied Lucio.

 Dolcefino asked, “Nobody was living in it?”

 Evangelina confirmed, “Nobody was living in them.”

To the family that owns this apartment complex it is further evidence Creekside wasn’t really closed down because it was a danger.

But because the mayor and city manager plotted to use the pricey piece of real estate for something else, redevelopment in a planned new tax zone.

“Nobody mentioned that it was a resident that did it. Nobody mentioned that we took action that we evicted the resident. Nobody mentioned that it was repaired immediately after the eviction. It does not benefit their side of the story to mention these things,” expressed Ahmet.

The photos produced by the city as they built their case against Creekside include the remnants of a charred kitchen. The suggestion, bad wiring caused this fire.

This is that same apartment, 172. You can still see the same row of spices in the cabinet above the fire damaged stove.

But here’s the problem, the family that owns Creekside say what happened here wasn’t the result of bad wiring.

The entire apartment complex had been rewired after the hurricane damaged the place. Before they bought it. This damage they say was the result of a kitchen fire caused by a resident.

“It’s all just a factor. They’re building plot they’re trying to find an excuse to justify their actions,” expressed Ahmet.

“I believe the pictures that we saw were made to look like it was a horrible place,” said Susan Wilcox.

And now a member of the Dickinson Building Standards Commission says she believes she was tricked into voting to condemn Creekside last year.

“I believe that we probably were misled on how bad it really was,” continued Wilcox.

“We were also shown pictures, which now I don’t even know if they were true pictures or not,” said Wilcox.

The first vote to condemn Creekside came in September of 2022.

“Just to seek clarification here these are occupied structures.

 Herman yes sir they are occupied absolutely))

But many of the pictures in the presentation came from buildings that had been unoccupied for years. Buildings that had not yet been repaired since hurricane Harvey ravaged the place.

But there clearly were things that needed repair at Creekside, rotting boards along balconies among them. How dangerous they were is still unclear.

“It was over and over and over it was repitious of the violations and conditions,” said Herman Myers.

But look at the words inspectors put on this photo, “appears to be sewage,”  was the puddle even tested before city inspectors used this picture as evidence?

Could it have instead been the result of an overflowing sink? Or just another example of Dickinson’s horrible drainage problems?

“You know they have hired Tony Buzbee you know to sue the city. You took a thirty-million-dollar property and now it is worth virtually nothing,” said Dolcefino.

It was that question in august that triggered a panic at Dickinson City Hall.

It was the first-time city manager Theo Melanson learned the Kalkan family was preparing to fight back.

“Right now this property is 100% vacant. Keep in mind that it’s not that I’m not earning money. I still have to pay the bills, hundreds of thousands of dollars in mortgages I’m paying it out of pocket,” expressed Ahmet.

The city of Dickinson has hired Rusty Hardin to defend against an impending lawsuit that could bankrupt the city.

“The narrative that is being spun here that we came in to shut this place down and that everything was great and there were no problems is false,” claims Skipworth.

“The public at large says that place was terrible and should have been shut down,” continued Skipworth.

That statement, along with some emails that we have may come back to bite the mayor and Dickinson taxpayers too.

Before inspectors descended on Creekside last may the city hadn’t issued a single citation at the complex in nearly a year. Not a single communication complaining about conditions at the apartment complex from the city at all.

Citations over a sewer leak in 2021 had been handled.

But Creekside owners say city officials advised residents to stop paying rent.

“The city officials themselves, the mayor himself has stepped on to my property and spoke to my residents and said look this place is so terrible right. If I were you, I would not pay rent. Don’t worry about rent, don’t pay rent,” recalls Ahmet.

We had to file a lawsuit to get Dickinson to start coughing up records.

Among the documents, a draft press release announcing the closing of Creekside a day before the inspections occurred. A local nonprofit already involved in plans to relocate the tenants.

The may inspection found violations, “all buildings on the property are lacking in continuous maintenance,” but there was a sudden flurry of mold complaints from a handful of residents complete with pictures.

One of the complaints of mold came from apartment 21.

Once inside it’s clear the former tenant left with come of her belongings left behind. The unit untouched for ten months.

But no evidence of mold. The owners say the tenant was seven thousand dollars behind on rent payment and never had complained about mold. Even refusing to let apartment managers in her apartment.

But these pictures look frightening. And that’s why follow-up inspections at Creekside are curious. No citations for mold. No documentation of significant mold inside any occupied apartment.

After ten months of no AC in these apartments you’d expect to see any mold growth, grow exponentially, but we didn’t see any.

“After months of it being shut down today were not seeing any mold. And those specific units you and I went and visited them personally. There is no mold in those units,” said Ahmet.

Even in September when city officials first sought the condemnation of Creekside, the alleged widespread mold problem went unmentioned.

We sought to see the notes of the inspections used to create this report with all these pictures… but the city says they can’t find them.

Videos on the city website detailing the votes to condemn Creekside are suddenly gone.

But that’s not all that’s missing, a speech Susan Wilcox made at the Building Standards Commission meeting a few weeks back is also gone. No audio or video.

Luckily our camera picked up her comments from across the room.

“I’m respectfully asking that this board table or abstain any further business with the Creekside properties until this issue is settled,” said Susan Wilcox in a Building Standards Commission.

The Building Standards Commission in Dickinson backed off plans to condemn Creekside last year until a bolt on a boiler suspiciously was loosened.

The city used that boiler problem to refuse to allow hot water for the Creekside residents for weeks after that. Creekside owners say they had no choice but to agree to shutter the complex.

The finger pointing though, it has already begun.

“Who in the city – I don’t know I’m not going to say. City manager, city somebody feels like that property is worth a lot more than having an owned apartment complex there,” said Susan Wilcox.

Upset because Wilcox now believes they only voted to do what city officials convinced them to do. She now thinks it’s may really be about real estate deals.

Weeks before the condemnation of Creekside, city officials were getting briefed on the taxable value of the property. But why? The city has so far refused to turn over communications on the special tax zone the mayor wants to create.

Creekside sits right in the middle of the economic plans, mostly being carried out in secret from taxpayers.

“And if this lawsuit happens there’s nothing left. And that’s the truth

Dickinson chamber of commerce president dawn king says the impending Creekside lawsuit was the final straw. The Chamber is closing down at the end of the year, amidst declining sales tax revenue for the city.

“When I made that decision i broke my own heart and that’s the truth blieve it.. Dolceifno you are sad for the city im sad for the citdy and im scared i grew up here))

But King says taxpayers should be questioning more than the late-night drinking antics of the city manager these days. She wanted to share this blistering message about the mayor and city manager.

“They’ve got nothing to show for the millions and millions of city tax payer dollars we have nothing. We have less than when we showed up,” states King.

The Galveston County district attorney’s office is now investigating some of those real estate deals handled by a company called pro source.

A city councilman is tied to that company listed on invoices as the project manager.

“Can you explain why you are listed as project manager on those invoices,” asked Wayne Dolcefino.

Brantley replied, “Probably a mistake.”

Wayne asked, “Really? A mistake that was made over and over again?”

“That and I’m listed as project manager on a lot of projects,” claimed Brantley.

Wayne asked, “Even ones you don’t do?”

The secretive real estate deals have helped fuel the unusually large legal bills the Dick of Dickinson and his friends are racking up from the law firm of Olson and Olson, more than 645,898 thousand dollars in bills in less than two years.

Those bills include payments to the law firm to help defend the exodus of city employees. 126 have left the city in two years, including the top building officials who worked on the Creekside case. The fire marshal is the latest to turn in her resignation.

The continued exodus of city employees is blamed in part on their treatment by the city manager and the mayor, who we’ve dubbed the Dick of Dickinson.

It’s why an emotional chamber president wants the more than 125 chamber members to know she is deeply worried Dickinson won’t survive.

“This is the last thing I can do for you. This is the last thing I can do for the businesses is to be honest with you and tell you it is the truth. I’m sorry I wish it wasn’t,” expressed King.

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