Civil Liberties

Papa Needs a Brand New Park


Twin 75-year-old veterinarians James and Jock Collins (pause and enjoy the fact that these people exist before reading on) bought a little piece of property as an investment in a Houston neighborhood in 1982 for $363,750.

Instead of enjoying the proceeds from their investment, however, the 75-year-old twins are locked in a battle with the city of Houston. In an unusual use of its eminent domain authority, the city has condemned the property to develop a small "pocket park" on the edge of a large, upscale redevelopment project.

The District offered the Collins twins $398,035 in 2004 and the developers offered them $1.4 million in 2006. The turn down both offers. A few months after the second offer, the City of Houston suddenly decides it needs a park on their property and offers $433,800. The brothers decline. In November 2007, eminent domain proceedings begin.

The developer, who serves on the District board and has ties to City Hall, says he's "offended" by the suggestion that the city wants the property to benefit his project. Take a look at the map and see what you think.

And why is the park so desperately needed?:

Joe Turner, the city's parks and recreation director, acknowledged that it is rare for the city to use its eminent domain authority to acquire land for parks. But in this case, Turner said, the action was justified.

"We have a shortage of parks in that area, and the Uptown District has done a good job of maintaining parks," Turner said.

Read reason on the Kelo eminent domain case here.