The abandonment of a horse trail by the city of Southlake Tuesday night left the leader of a riding school and founder of an organization for special needs children in tears. But neighbors were glad to take possession and clean up the property, which has not been used as a trail since 2008.
The land in question is a 10-foot-wide trail behind about eight homes in the Fox Hollow Addition, south of Hwy. 114 and west of N. White Chapel Boulevard.
An agreement made in 1996 says that the land, which was to be maintained by the city as an equestrian trail, would be given to property owners when it was no longer used as a horse trail.
Riders originally used it to get to three acres of undeveloped city land preserved as green space. But in 2008, nearby Countryside Bible Church declined to provide an easement across its property, which riders have to cross to get to the trail.
“The trail was not abandoned,” said Doreen Bruton. “We were forced off the trail we loved for so many years.”
Bruton runs Ride with Pride, a Southlake riding school, and founded Amy’s Wish With Wings, a nonprofit that provides equine assisted therapy for children who have special needs as a result of autism, brain injuries, vision impairment and other ailments.
About 12 people spoke or put in cards opposing the abandonment. Two adjacent homeowners came to support the action.
Ira Tiffenberg said that he will gain 10 feet of back yard, but beyond that, he said the land is unsafe because it harbors a bobcat and dead trees.
Bruton said a 4H group has cleaned up the area, which she described as natural, with wildlife and tall grasses.
The 5-2 council vote came after consultation with the city’s attorney in closed session. The two council members opposed were Carolyn Morris and Laura Hill.
Mayor John Terrell said afterward that it was a difficult decision, but that the legal course was clear—everyone involved agreed that the trail hadn’t been used since 2008.
Bruton, who grew up in the neighborhood around the trail, was emotional and disappointed after the vote.
“I can’t believe that happened,” she said, adding that she had hoped the council might decide to help her group work something out with the church.
She said students and special needs children will continue to ride in the school’s arena at 480 W. Highland St. in Southlake.