By RICK KELLEY
HARLINGEN — When it comes to improving neighborhoods, nothing works like Army green.
The Texas National Guard’s Operation Crackdown in six years has demolished and removed 182 blighted and abandoned residences in the city. This month, they intend to push the number over 200
“Once gain the National Guard is going to be here at the end of the month, from Aug. 20 through the 31st for Operation Crackdown, which is where the National Guard along with the city comes in and demolishes vacant and abandoned houses,” Rodrigo Davila, the city’s planning and zoning director, told the City Commission last week.
“Thus far we have a total of 182 homes that have been demolished and we hope to add to that another 23, plus or minus,” Davila added.
Operation Crackdown is part of the Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force, bringing Texas National Guard engineers to cities across the state to demolish abandoned or vacant structures which could be used by drug abusers and dealers.
The benefits to Texas communities are obvious, but Guard soldiers also get a chance to enhance their combat engineering skills in real-world environments during the demolition process.
Davila said his department was still finalizing details of the operation but that the Guard would be rolling into the city on Aug. 20.
“It’s a really great program for our city. It eliminates blighted structures and housing in many instances that are right across the street from our elementary schools and are where we see gang and drug activity,” Mayor Chris Boswell said. “By eliminating the structures, we improve the safety of our neighborhoods and that’s what this program is all about.
“We’ll go over the 200 mark in structures that have been eliminated and improved, and it tends to improve the rest of the neighborhood when this happens,” he added.