The Barrinche Debacle
Two Dozen Homes in a Poor area of West End Face an Uncertain Future

December 11th, 2011
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private]

A walkway between homes in the Barrinche neighborhood

A walkway between homes in the Barrinche neighborhood

Most houses in Barrinche, a poor part of northern West End, will not be connected to the new municipal septic system. Ironically, the waste water plant has been constructed right across the street from the neighborhood.

The Barrinche houses are all wooden, with corrugated metal roofs. Some of them are well kept, others just barely shacks. This is where the working poor and working class West Enders have lived for 20-plus years. Still, most people don’t have documents of a land purchase to show. By most people’s accounts they are “squatters.”

According to Manuel Chavez, 26, and a 12-year resident of Barrinche, around 15 homes and 75 people are facing possible evictions, or at-best an uncertain future. While Chavez says that about half of homes owners have papers to show for them, the reality is that the paperwork on the properties is insufficient to have them registered in the property book.

Even relocation to donated land might not be a viable option for at least some Barrinche residents. “Even if we are given land to relocate, people have built houses and invested money. I don’t know if they will want to move,” says Chavez.

Reyna Rosales, Barrinche resident since 1989, has invested over $30,000 in a recent expansion and renovation of her home. She can show a sales document of the house she purchased, but not much else. Her house, like many houses in the neighborhood, rests on stilts hovering over the shallow water of Mangrove Bight, not land. She has a beautiful view of the mangroves and the sea from her bedroom, but she is as vulnerable as most of her neighbors. “I feel a part of West End,” says Rosales. “I don’t want to leave.”

Another issue is the human refuse pollution in Mangrove Bight that borders the neighborhood, which comes from Barrinche homes discharging waste directly into the bight. “We would like to be connected to the septic line very much. Right now all our waste just goes into the water,” says Rosales.

Mayor Julio Galindo says that by law he cannot connect “illegal properties” to the municipal septic system. “I am trying to find a place to relocate them. Something like two acres,” said Galindo. Mayor Julio Galindo drove by the neighborhood in the afternoon of November 22. He stopped by and talked about children playing on the finished waste water plant. “Be careful because they can fall,” called out Mayor Galindo. Half a dozen kids just looked away, just like their parents, and continued to kick a soccer ball off the concrete structure that is West End’s soon-to-be-open waste management plant. [/private]

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