A Site History Project for The Texas A&M University System's RELLIS Campus

Eminent Domain

In September 2015, news stories out of the Las Vegas area reported the U.S. Air Force had seized a sizable piece of high-desert land known as Groom Mine. Under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the federal government and its agencies have the right to claim private property under “eminent domain,” but only when “just compensation” is provided. 

The Air Force initially offered the owners of Groom Mine, located adjacent to the infamous “Area 51,” a highly classified installation famous for the development of top-secret military and intelligence-gathering aircraft, just over $330,000. The owners claimed the land’s value in the tens of millions of dollars.

After the seizure of the property, the family forced to vacate the Groom Mine property, launched a Twitter page. Posts to that page abruptly ended in late 2016. One must assume an “undisclosed settlement” was reached.

Likewise, the U.S. Army Air Corps seized nearly 2,000 acres of property west of Bryan, TX, as it embarked to establish what would become known as the Bryan Army Air Field. Almost four dozen landowners were effected. Their “just compensation” for the Brazos River bottomland was $122,000...total.

Regina and Charles Opersteny both grew up in Bryan and both spent time on the site of the Bryan Army Air Field during the Korean War. Regina held a civilian job while Charles was stationed there during his stint in the U.S. Air Force.

Some 60 years later, the Opersteny’s live on Regina’s Stetz family farm, just three miles south of what is now called the RELLIS Campus. Mrs. Opersteny recalls the fear that her home would fall prey to the claims of eminent domain which opened the way for the establishment of Bryan Army Air Field at the outset of World War II.

 

Charles and Regina Opersteny are Bryan natives. They attended high school together and started dating while both were at Bryan Air Force Base. Regina Stetz served in a civilian clerical position, while Charles was a medical corpsman in the U.S. Air Force. He went on to become a Bryan/College Station physical therapist. He remains active in Bryan’s American Legion Post 159. The couple live on Regina’s family farm located near the old Bryan Air Force Base site, now called the RELLIS Campus.