June 3, 2012
by Emma Perez-Trevino
The city of Brownsville and attorneys for private trusts told U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen Wednesday that their negotiations are progressing regarding land that the federal government condemned to make way for placement of a temporary border fence.
The United States took possession of 15.919 acres of land from the city in 2009, but an agreement that the parties reached contains provisions that the land would revert to the city upon construction of a new levee. The fence would then be moved to the new levee.
The fence was built on what is known as the East Loop levee between the Gateway International Bridge and the B&M International Bridge.
When the city constructs a new levee, the property would revert to the city to allow it to complete the East Loop, which would carry heavy truck traffic from the international bridges to the Port of Brownsville. City officials said at the time that the land also is vital to the contemplated development of the historic downtown area.
Under the agreement reached with the government, the city would be responsible for designing and constructing the replacement levee and barriers, and the temporary fencing would be removed by the government if funding were available.
After the agreement was reached, however, it was learned that the Browne trusts have an interest in some of the property. Their attorney Daniel L. Rentfro Jr. advised Hanen that they are not contesting the agreement between the city and the government. Rentfro said that they have been negotiating with the city and Cameron County and are resolving issues of just compensation.
The government’s attorney Daniel David Hu told Hanen that this is “obviously the city’s business.”
The parties will keep the court informed as they continue to work toward reversion of the property to the city.