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Big League Dreams
or
Big League Schemes?
and how it affects us...
(These are the thoughts and feelings of Steve alone)

Links to the major players:
City of Mansfield
Big League Dreams
Big League Schemes

Well, after all these years on Carlin in Mansfield, it looks like we'll be moving!

Big League Dreams and the commercial project known as Town Center may be a dream project for the city of Mansfield, or it may be a nightmare; but one thing's for sure...it's not my dream!

After more than a month of deliberations and thought, we've decided that the developments may or may not be great for Mansfield, but they're not great for Carlin Rd, and not for us.  All indications are that the city is going ahead with the development.  We can fight it and have the ball park moved a couple of hundred feet from our home , but still end up living next to a development of some kind (the city owns the land beside us and plans to develop it commercially!) ; or we can sell all our property (the developer wants the back half, and has offered to purchase the front half) and get away from the developments altogether.

We've decided that our best interests are served by getting out before the development comes in.

A little history behind my decision:

My first wife Lisa and I were looking for property to build on (an earth-sheltered or underground home) back in the summer and fall of '82, and while I was looking for an acre or two, the real estate agent came up with this 4 acre property in Mansfield.  It was surrounded by fields, covered in Mesquite and fire ants (my first fire ant bite was here!), and the nearest structure was a neighbor's house about 600' from the center of the property (and I was seriously considering building in the back part of the land).  So, we decided to purchase this land and the closing was set for mid January '83.

Then, my world caved in.  Lisa suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on January 11th, and died on the 13th!  After a couple of weeks, I decided to go ahead with the land purchase, and I still think it was the best possible thing I could do.  Every day after work, I'd drive down and work until dark clearing out by hand all the mesquite bushes on the front half of the property, and fighting the fire ants all the way.  I'd purchased an old Cub Cadet garden tractor that summer to help (although I spent much of my time working on the tractor).  Cutting the mesquite and fixing the tractor became my catharsis and helped me work through the pain and loss.  

I'd contacted Cheryl (whom I'd worked with a year or two before), and established a friendship that grew into love, and in November of '84, we were married.

Soon afterwards, we received word from Charlie Proctor that a developer, a Mr. E. A. Hott (I think) was planning on developing the field beside us (which is now referred to as the "Allen Property") into a development of small homes.  After getting my "piece of the country", I didn't want to have bunch of small homes right beside me, so we fought that battle, and won.

We finally got tired of living in a development in Euless, and in '89, started designing and building a home here with Sabine Valley homes from Ft Worth.  As part of the deal with them, we signed title to the property over to them so that they could build (I know -- DUMB thing to do).  Anyway, unknown to us, they were about to go under, and as their business started failing, to get our property back, we had to essentially pay some of their creditors!

We located another builder, and without giving up our land again, managed to get our dream home built and moved in in '91.

Soon after, Steve Lockwood acquired the land along the 287 and Broad street frontage, and wanted to develop it commercially.  The neighborhood again got up in arms.  At one point, we even invited Mr. Lockwood to our home for a meeting with all the neighborhood.  He outlined his grandiose plans, and managed to calm some fears.  As you know, he got his re-zoning passed, but never developed anything more than the gas station on the corner.

We spent the next 10 years or so raising our kids and enjoying our little piece of country.  

The quiet life began to erode this spring with word that Big League Dreams was to build a ball park at the corner of East Broad and 287!  There were 3 more-or-less unoccupied corners there, and I was trying to get more details from the city, when I was told that it was to be located behind the gas station on our side!   I was never told the exact location, but I figured that the 500' or so behind our house would probably be buffer enough if it was built behind us (I was still hoping for a location close to the gas station).

Then, we were approached by Giovanni homes who ended up purchasing (or so we thought) the "Allen Property" beside us, and were planning a development of nice sized homes.  

After all these years of solitude, we were not happy with the prospect of homes right next door, but we reconciled ourselves to the fact that something would be built there, and at least it was nice homes, not apartments or even worse, a mall!

Then came the phone call from Laurie Gillespie (new director of MEDC - Mansfield Economic Development Council) asking if we'd be willing to sell a couple hundred feet off the back of our property for the BLD project!  We arranged a meeting with her, and she gave us all the details of the project, and let us know that they wanted 455' of our property -- to within 20' of our back yard fence!   Worse yet, the property just to the side of us was to be a Mall with Apartments and Town homes coming right adjacent to our home!   My worst fears for the land beside us were coming true!  The offer that Ms Gillespie gave us (she was the go between for the developer) was a set price (fairly generous I might add) for the back 455' of our property, and the appraised value on the front.  Given the prospect of living beside a Mall AND Apartments, we told her that we most likely would be willing to sell.  

They (the development) had wanted the back 455' off of our land, our neighbor's next door -- the Battles, Wanda Allen's, and Gene Robertson's.  According to Ms Gillespie, Gene said NO, and that he'd fight them to no end if they tried to take it, so they backed down and 'moved' the ball park to avoid using any of his land, so it was down to 3 property owners.  She also said that Mrs. Allen didn't want to sell, but she though they could get her to come around.  The first week in October, she sent contracts to us and the Battles, but we didn't feel comfortable with the wording of the contract, nor the fact that we were given less than a week to look it over before it was supposed to be signed!  We were assured by Ms. Gillespie that if we didn't sign it by October 11th, it was OK.

Then came the infamous Oct 11th city council meeting where they voted to use eminent domain to acquire Mrs. Allen's property (she couldn't be convinced to sell).  This really raised the ire of the neighborhood and started a group to fight the eminent domain and the ball park development (BigLeagueSchemes.Info -- a website we developed to air our concerns).  Ms. Gillespie (and members of the City Council) was quite upset that I would be affiliated with the website (I'd registered the name, so it had my name in the registration information -- publicly available).  

After public demonstrations and many citizens speaking up at council, the council decided to again, move the ball park, this time off of Mrs. Allen's land.

The neighborhood is still upset over the BLD project and the apparent lack of public input on it (no vote, and what we consider as insufficient information to the citizens by the council and the MEDC).  The fight continues over the sale of beer at a supposedly city owned park where kids will be playing ball (Mansfield is a 'Dry' town -- no Beer, Wine, or Liquour sales except at 'private' clubs).

So my dream of a home in the country is ending thanks to the rapid (some may say too rapid) growth of our little town.  I could have put up with living next to a development of nice homes, but apartments, townhomes and a mall are too much!

So, while I still support my neighbors, we've decided to take the lemons that the city has given us and make lemonaide out of it.  We'll take the money and use it for a nice home somewhere close, and use some for the kid's college education, and hopefully have some left over to set aside for retirement (which will be very very welcome).

 

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Last modified Sunday, August 12, 2007 08:16:17 PM