On February 22, 2007, Anderson sent Ray Merola and another MUD #261 board member an e-mail slugged "Unfinished business," attaching the legal document that showed the HCAD suit was over.

"Please take the attached and shove it up your asses," Anderson wrote. "You are both unethical slimeballs." Anderson then listed his phone number at the bottom.

Merola says he had the e-mail reviewed by an attorney, at taxpayers' expense.

Paul Anderson became a pariah when he raised questions about his subdivision's land and the contamination underneath
Daniel Kramer
Paul Anderson became a pariah when he raised questions about his subdivision's land and the contamination underneath
The dirt just below the surface of one backyard was stained with potentially hazardous chemicals from past oil and gas activities.
Response Action Completion Report/Geo Monitoring S
The dirt just below the surface of one backyard was stained with potentially hazardous chemicals from past oil and gas activities.

Anderson seems to be spoiling for a fight. But he claims he just wants the last word. And to show them he isn't scared.

Cheryl Anderson says she often feared for her husband's physical safety when they lived in Woodwind Lakes. She especially worried about Merola, a barrel-chested 48-year-old with a thick New Jersey accent.

"That's sad," Merola says, "because I would never physically threaten anyone. The storytelling is so corrosive in our neighborhood. I'm an elected official. Why would I want to go and fight someone? What am I, 18 years old?"

At Woodwind Lakes, lawsuits are still pending against the developer, homebuilders, title company and realtors. Three of the "areas of concern" identified more than a decade ago remain under federal and state investigation.

Some of the plaintiffs continue to live in the subdivision. "The house is already paid for," explains homeowner Garth, casting some doubt over how concerned he really is about potential health hazards.

Oyen says many residents want the environmental issues -- and the people who worry about them -- to just go away. "People are proud of their neighborhood," he says. "They're positive people and they don't like negativity."

But even Oyen says life has changed in Woodwind Lakes, recalling the early days when residents on his cul-de-sac "used to be very close; that aspect has gone away."

Paul Anderson stays on top of everything related to Woodwind Lakes while working as a paralegal for immigration lawyer Tim Hart, one of the plaintiffs. He says his experiences have inspired him to become an environmental attorney and "fight big, powerful companies on behalf of innocent poor people." He is waiting to hear back from several Houston-area law schools.

The Andersons don't like their new house as much as the old one. But they prefer the neighborhood. "Nobody hates anybody here," 11-year-old Kyle Anderson explains.

His parents remain traumatized.

"I don't trust anyone anymore, period," Cheryl Anderson says.

Paul Anderson agrees: "I don't want to know my neighbors."

When buying their new house, the Andersons did not investigate the property. They know nothing about its history. They do not want to know.

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