Planned hike and bike trail delayed in one Pearland neighborhood

PEARLAND, TX It is a very large project that could develop a series of hike and bike trails throughout Pearland. But the first phase is now more than a year behind schedule because part of the land the city needs is not theirs.

The orange flags tied to survey stakes are a constant reminder of a property battle brewing in Pearland.

"We have been living here very quietly. Tranquility - that is why we bought this land," said Il-H-Kwon.

He and his wife have lived on Ryan Acres in Pearland for 28 years. They bought the two acre lot because the only thing behind them was the meandering Mary Creek. But the city of Pearland is ready to move forward on a trail connectivity project.

Approved as part of a bond election in 2007, the plans are complete, ready to bid out, but they are unable to break ground, because they land they need belongs to someone else -- six homeowners to be exact.

Dolores Hill moved here 23 years ago, and like others, has a workshop that is in the middle of the 50 feet easement the city is looking to acquire.

"The hike and bike trail is something that is not a necessity. I mean, it's not a like a thoroughfare or road that is going to go through. This is something they have other options to do," Hill said.

Park planners insist the trails will benefit many residents and that they only wish to acquire a small portion of their backyards that are already part of a drainage easement on Mary Creek.

"These homes have an existing drainage easement behind their property. It's an existing drainage easement, and what we are seeking to do is actually place a trail within that drainage easement," said Michelle Smith, Director of Parks and Recreation.

To appease homeowners, the city has added ornamental wrought iron fencing to address safety concerns. However, residents say monetary offers are far below market value, but say more money won't really change their minds.

"It really doesn't involve the money as much as we just, we just don't want it," said Hill.

The issue was discussed Monday night at a city meeting. Council members now say they will meet with landowners and tour their properties to get a better sense of their concerns.

In order for the city of Pearland to acquire the needed land through eminent domain, City Council would have to make an official declaration to begin that process, something that has not yet happened.

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