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U.P. wrong about rail line

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The recent announcement by Union Pacific to reactivate the 900 South railroad line has stirred a lot of west-side community members into taking a more active role in their neighborhoods.

As community members meet with city and U.P. officials, the news media have several times repeated a quote by U.P. spokesman Mike Furtney when advised that property values of homes surrounding the railroad tracks will sink. Mr. Furtney is quoted as saying: "That is ridiculous. We run through 23 states . . . past millionaires' homes. You can't make a generalized statement that the railroad has an effect on property values."

I would like to ask Mr. Furtney how many millionaires' homes U.P. runs by where the railroad line is only 32 feet from the side of the home, as in my case?

In July of 1999, I purchased a home located adjacent to the abandoned tracks. Before purchasing, I double-checked with the previous owners, the neighbors, the real estate company and city officials. All told me the line was abandoned and it was destined to become an urban bike and/or walking trail.

During the past several months, because of very low mortgage interest rates, I applied at three different mortgage places, hoping to refinance my mortgage at a better rate than the 7.875 percent rate I currently have.

Despite a $5,000 down payment, adding a security fence around the complete back yard (cost: $6,000) and installing central air (cost: $1,500), I am unable to get anyone to offer refinancing terms. The reason? All three companies state that the value of the homes in my ZIP code area have dropped an average of 7 percent or more during the past several months, and that the amount needed to refinance is more than the current property value.

I submit to Mr. Furtney that the first and foremost reason for the drop in property values in this area is U.P.'s announcement that it intends to reactivate the rail line. Would U.P. be willing to refinance my house mortgage, since U.P. believes there is no relationship to property values?

Richard Egan

Salt Lake City