SAN ANGELO, TX — In a surprise move, the San Angelo City Council voted unanimously to not renew the lease of the historic Santa Fe Railroad Museum to the non-profit who manages the museum there.
The issues with renewing the lease for the Santa Fe Depot have been examined here.
David Wood, the President of the San Angelo Railway Museum, Inc., approached the dais and explained that he was not aware any action was taking place on the lease at this city council meeting, so the denial of the lease agreement he was anticipating came as a complete surprise.
No one of the council would give Wood a reason the lease was not being renewed. City attorney Theresa James explained to Wood that events have happened between the last meeting with Wood’s board and today that have “degraded” the City’s confidence in renewing the lease with Wood’s group.
“If this lease is not renewed, let me assure you there will be a large community outcry about it,” Wood said, as he threatened a media campaign against the City.
At the end of public comments, of which Wood was the only citizen to comment, the council voted 7-0 to kick the Railway Museum out of the depot.
The San Angelo Railway Museum has operated the Santa Fe Depot at 703 S. Chadbourne St. for 20 years. The lease negotiations have been at times contentious. Wood claimed the City failed to perform their duties as landlords, as set out in the previous lease, to maintain the HVAC or repave the parking lot. The City leased the depot to the non-profit for $1 per year otherwise.
What happens next with the old depot is up in the air. Rumors are that the City is interested in leasing or selling the old depot to a private company, such as Texas Pacifico, who runs a real railroad operation here. Spokeswoman for Texas Pacifico Liz Grindstaff said her company currently has a lease on their existing location and any speculation about leasing the depot is premature.
With no renewal of the lease, the Railway Museum must either negotiate a month-to-month arrangement or vacate the Santa Fe Depot by the end of the lease on Sept 16.
The city released a statement on their reasons for not renewing the lease. City leadership has no confidence in the leadership of the Railway Museum of San Angelo, Inc.