A battle is on for a piece of land along the popular Katy Trail where a caboose now sits.
The land is City of Dallas property beside Routh Street at the entrance to the trail.
The neighboring Katy Trail Ice House leases the site from the city for the caboose for $1500 a year as an icon for the business and the trail.
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“I think the caboose just adds a little color down here and adds a little amenity to the trail,” said Wayne Smith, a past president of The Friends of the Katy Trail.
Now, for a payment of $225,000 the Ice House is asking the Dallas City Council to abandon the entire section of Routh Street north of Woodrow Avenue leading to the trail to connect the Ice House with property it also owns on the other side of the street.
The Friends of The Katy Trail support the plan because the Ice House also promises to spend around $250,000 more of its own money to improve drainage problems at the site and provide a much nicer entrance to the trail.
“So in my book, with the city in trouble as it is with the funding, and the upgrades that need to be done, I think this is a $500,000 turn around for this entrance right here,” Smith said. “I think it would be a great addition to the Katy Trail.”
The Dallas City Council Member who represents the neighborhood disagrees. Phil Kingston claims the small lease was just the start of this bigger plan by the Ice House.
“I’ve never been a fan of that lease. To me it was always a precursor to try and abandon the street and not a very subtle one,” Kingston said.
Abandoning the city right of way could remove a row of free parking at the trail entrance in the Uptown neighborhood where parking is scarce. But also Kingston has a bigger concern.
“I think it’s a back door way to expand the business and even though it’s a great business and vibrant and we want it to continue to succeed, I don’t think making it bigger is a great idea. It’s had quite a number of issues trying to get along with its neighbors in terms of noise and so I think that an expansion is really a bad idea,” Kingston said.
Instead, Kingston said the city should keep the property, make improvements with city money to the trail entrance, perhaps keeping the caboose in place, but containing the Ice House.
“We’ve only now reached a balance where we’re not getting complaints about the business all the time. I don’t want to mess with that formula,” Kingston said.
People with the business said congestion problems would improve with the street abandonment by using the property across Routh Street for access to the Ice House.
A City Council vote is scheduled Wednesday.