Gardendale Moving Closer to Becoming City

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

GARDENDALE - An Ector County community still fighting to become a city. Residents of Gardendale have been campaigning the last few months to incorporate and it's all because they're worried their small town will be taken over by an oil company if they don't.

On Monday evening, members of the Gardendale Landowners Association and others from around the county watched a special screening of the documentary Gasland.

The film shed light on the problems landowners around the country faced after their land was drilled for natural gas.

Members of the Association say they just want to keep their way of life while working reasonably together with Berry Petroleum.

It's been about a year since the situation in Gardendale started to unfold. Landowners received letters saying Berry Petroleum would begin staking ground for drilling oil.

"There's just a number of issues that are involved when you talk about having the drilling industry in your back door literally," Wade Hudman, a Gardendale resident and Landowner Association Member, said.

One of those issues involves our most precious resource, water. Members of the Landowners Association showed that concern through the film Gasland.

The documentary follows people from all around the country who found their water was no longer safe due to the fracing process used for drilling.

"The fracing process that they use in order to stimulate the gas production is similar, if not identical, to the fracing process they're going to use to stimulate oil production," Dan Boggs, another member and Gardendale resident, said.

"What little water we have out here, we want it to be protected and not contaminated," Hudman said.

Members are also worried about their water supply.

"This is from the oil company, they've told me it's going to take between 1.2 and 1.6 million gallons of freshwater per well."

But they're hoping to take back control. They said they've reached the required number of signatures to start the process of incorporating into a city and they hope to see the issue on the May ballot.

"If that election turns out favorable then we will be incorporated as a city and at that point in time we can then begin the ordinance process," Hudman said. "Our focus is not going to be on changing Gardendale, it's going to be on preserving Gardendale."

Members said they know drilling is inevitable so they want to be able to work together with Berry Petroleum in the future.

"We are on our own, it's up to us whether we do it or not," Boggs said.

"People are pretty well locked in here and we're trying to make the best that we can of the situation," Hudman said.

Representatives from Berry Petroleum were invited to take part in a question and answer session after the screening but Boggs said they respectfully declined. The landowners are waiting for County Judge Susan Redford to approve their signatures before it can go on the ballot. They plan to show a public screening of the film on March 11.