City, Union Pacific finalize land deal

It’s been a long time in the works, but after about four years of back-and-forth with Union Pacific Railroad, the City of Gladewater is just shy of acquiring property south of the railroad tracks in the center of downtown.
It means officials now have to choose how they’ll fence the stretch, and they’re working toward a community-funded monument-style fenceline to enhance the overall aesthetic.
“The paperwork is still not fully-signed,” Mayor Scott Owens said, “but it’s laying on somebody’s desk to be signed.”
According to City Manager Charlie Smith, the city will wire $86,000 to Union Pacific as soon as the deal is set.
“We had been leasing that property over there for years and years and years,” he said. Previously, when Union Pacific opted to increase the lease costs, the city attempted to acquire the land through Eminent Domain, exercising its legal authority to take private property for public use. “It got into a lawsuit and one thing after another.
After four years and lots of dialogue, “They came up with an agreement that the city would buy that southern part for $86,000.”
The City of Gladewater will continue its upkeep of the remaining property held by UP.
“We are leasing the property on the north side… with the lease payment being on us to maintain mowing and trimming of the bushes,” Owens noted. Meanwhile, “We purchased four different blocks of property on the south side of the railroad tracks.
“We are required on the south side at the 50-foot line to put up a fence. That fence is designed then to push people to the intersections for any crossing when we have events downtown –instead of them crossing in the middle and maybe getting stuck on the track.”
For that fence, council member Kevin Clark recommends Gladewater take a page out of the City of Terrell’s book and bring the community together to invest in a quality, sturdy, aesthetically-pleasing fence. He referenced a Terrell’s cemetery’s effective and attractive monument-fence that includes family names of those present in the cemetery.
After a bit of discussion, the working plan for Gladewater is to recruit local donors to underwrite sections of the new railroad adjacent fence.
“It’s one of the first questions that came up when we realized we had to build a fence on the south side of the tracks,” Clark said. “The last thing we want is an eyesore up in the middle of town.”
Collect donations, he suggested, and give community members a chance to put their name to an enduring landmark. “It may last every bit of our lifetime-plus.”
Smith agrees – it will be a central fixture for the town.
“I don’t think a chain link fence down there would look worth a darn,” Smith said. “I’m not sure we want a wood fence.”
Instead, he provided sample photos of various styles of wrought-iron fencing.
“I think this is the best idea. I personally like the flat top on the fence better than I do the pokey ones,” he quipped. “I think it would really dress up that area well.”
That style of fencing runs about $150 a linear foot, he noted, available in panels of not less than 8-feet, with seven panels to one section. The initial plan aims for a 6-foot-tall fence.
Before pursuing the idea further, “I wanted to get some ideas from the council on which way to go. I think this is the best idea. We would start out trying to do donations on this – I know a donor already that wants to do this.”
“That would be me,” Clark replied. An eight-foot panel would cost an estimated $1,200: “That would be your family panel.”
It’s a fair price, per councilman Teddy Sorrells: “I’m in on that.”
Finishing the figures on the initial, rough price point, Clark noted a full section would cost about $8,400 for every 56 feet of fencing.
“Hopefully we can get enough donations where we can knock out a good chunk of that,” he added.
“I don’t think we’ll have a problem,” councilwoman Brandy Flanagan said.
Granted, there might not be enough donations to cover the entire project, Owens said, but the sections that are community-funded would note the donor on a hefty (i.e. hard-to-remove) plaque.
“My idea here would be that we’d want to start at the major intersections,” Smith noted.
A discussion item-only, the council took no action on the idea during the September meeting. Follow the Gladewater Mirror for updates on the developing project.

Facebook Comments