September 6, 2006
Jefferson City, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon says a brief filed on Tuesday (Sept. 5) by the two signers of the original agreement creating the Katy Trail demonstrates how those most knowledgeable about the agreement between the state and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad oppose a plan to give away the state's interest in the MKT bridge at Boonville.
Three former directors of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources — including Frederick Brunner, who signed the 1987 agreement on behalf of the state — filed the friend-of-the-court brief in the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District. They were joined by Raye Reynolds, the former vice president of property management for the MKT Railroad who negotiated and signed the 1987 agreement on behalf of the railroad, and by Pat Jones, who, with her husband, Edward (Ted) Jones, was the major private donor for the creation and development of the Katy Trail.
Brunner and former director G. Tracy Mehan III were appointed by Gov. John Ashcroft; former director Steven Mahfood was appointed by Gov. Mel Carnahan.
The brief was filed in support of Nixon, who sued the current director of the MDNR in May 2005, challenging his authority to unilaterally give away the state's interest in the bridge to the Union Pacific Railroad, which plans to dismantle the bridge and use portions of it in the construction of another bridge. Union Pacific also is a defendant in the lawsuit.
“Those who were key players 20 years ago when the trail was created and those who were key to its development and maintenance are stating in no uncertain terms that the Boonville bridge is part of the rail-banked Katy Trail corridor,” Nixon says. “Considering the background and knowledge these parties bring to this issue, I believe their views should be given great deference by the appeals court.”
In their brief, the former directors state that, “None of the arguments advanced by respondents reflects the intent of the parties to the 1987 Agreement... As M-K-T's successor-in-interest to the 1987 Agreement, Union Pacific is obligated to leave the Bridge in place. Union Pacific is unlawfully taking steps to remove the Bridge, and profit from the removal.”
A decision by the Cole County Circuit Court is being appealed to the Western District Court of Appeals by Nixon. The Attorney General's Office filed its brief in the case on Tuesday as well. No date for arguments has been set.