College Station: City Authorizes Eminent Domain to Acquire 102 Acres of Land for Park Project
Feature Photo: An aerial view of the proposed site for the city’s new park project. Image: Google/VBX Graphic.
by Art Benavidez
College Station (Brazos County) — City Council recently authorized the use of eminent domain in order to acquire land for a park project.
The taking by eminent domain will require that the city pay a “simple fee” for the acquisition of approximately 102.4-acres of land from Gerry L. Saum.
The land will be used for the construction, operation and maintenance of a public park as part of the Westside Community Park Project.
The undeveloped land is located north of the North Dowling Road and Blue Ridge Drive intersection in the Holt Hills neighborhood.
The city had entered into an agreement with Saum to purchase the property in 2017, however, a dispute halted further negotiations and with the dispute still unresolved the city turned to eminent domain proceedings.
Councilmember John Nichols called the project “a much needed park” and supported the motion.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Cunha said she only supported using eminent domain for public utilities needs and was the only councilmember to vote against the item.
“I am not above using eminent domain,” she said. “I think it is a very serious thing.”
She added that the last time the city exercised eminent domain, she made the motion for a waterline because “you need water.”
Councilmember Dennis Maloney said there was a great need for a park system, given the city’s young and vibrant community.
“People that have actually studied this particular tract of land and know the history of it will understand that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye,” he said. “This isn’t a taking. This is simply paying more than what it actually worth initially and we are doing it because it is financially more sound for us to go this way than drag this on through the courts. Parks are crucial to us. It’s just as vital to the community as police and firefighters.”
The city has yet to release construction costs, scope of work or timeline for the project.
Art Benavidez (Construction News Reporter, Central Texas) is a seasoned journalist with over 15-years of experience in writing breaking news and in-depth features at the local level. He honed his research and reporting skills in newspapers and magazines throughout South and West Texas along with expertise in crafting digital content as Managing Editor of New Image Marketing Research Corporation. Benevidez is a Texas native and graduate of UT-RGV.