Temporary Restraining Order halts historical brick removal

After another round with the City of Houston and Conrad Construction, the Freedmen’s Town Preservation Coalition has stopped the uprooting of the hundred year old bricks on Andrews Street this morning.

FTPC President, Dorris Ellis Robinson, spent the morning hours speaking to media while watching construction workers pick at the bricks, taking them up one by one and stacking them neatly in layers. In her patience, she worked diligently with her team to get a legal motion to the site to stop the further work. By 11:30 am, Catherine Roberts of the FTPC and Rutherford B. Yates Museum rushed over the freshly signed temporary restraining order requested last night in an emergency motion to stop the project.

Conrad Construction workers taking up the historical bricks in Freedmen's Town.
Conrad Construction workers taking up the historical bricks in Freedmen’s Town.

Since July of 2014, the FTPC has requested that Mayor Parker and the City of Houston to reverse their decision to take up the bricks in order to update utility (water) lines under the streets. The debate over preservation and restoration has resulted in a stalemate as neither side has found a middle ground with the other.

“We have tried to schedule meetings and we do our work and they do their work and no meetings take place,” said FTPC President Dorris Ellis Robinson. “We’ve come to an impasse and we had to do a TRO (temporary restraining order) today.”

This is not the first time Robinson has interrupted Conrad Construction’s project as she laid in the trench made by removed bricks almost a month ago, during a trial run of what would be.

“We have 14 days to meet with the City and again explain the alternative solutions and to have support for preserving a historical place,” said Robinson.

Community member Charonda Johnson saw crew members out Monday afternoon inspecting the area and said she knew then it was be something going on today.

The members of the FTPC have continuously shown their devotion to preserving the history of the freed men who paid their own money to have the bricks made and laid.

“They’ll never be able to put back the sweat and tears that it took to put it (bricks) down,” said Reverend Samuel Smith, pastor of Mt. Horeb Baptist Church that sits about three blocks away from the construction site.

Many that gathered at the site complained that the bricks were not being labeled and placed like the City promised which provided further unrest about the project.

“It’s disheartening, the broken promises by the City,” said Ashley Jones of the FTPC. “The methods used are not what they promised, no labeling or identifying of the bricks. How can they be replaced?”

Once the TRO was given to Don Conrad of Conrad Construction and after reviewing the document and speaking to the City of Houston, stopped the removal of the bricks and began to replace the ones removed.

Don Conrad and his crew at a stand still after being served a Temporary Restraining Order.
Don Conrad and his crew at a stand still after being served a Temporary Restraining Order.

According to Alvin Wright, Public Information Officer for the City of Houston, the next step is for the City to go through legal and they will review it. The first court hearing will be January 30th at 1 p.m.. The court has not been released yet.

The temporary restraining order will stop the construction project for 14 days.

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