Got to Judge Martin Hoffman's courtroom in the George Allen a few minutes past 9 this morning for a long-scheduled injunction hearing in the case of City of Dallas v. Museum of the American Railroad. It figured to be an interesting hearing, what with all the he said-he said going on between First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers and William Brotherton, the museum's lawyer: Brotherton told Unfair Park last month that after court-ordered mediation, there was a "tentative agreement" in place what would allow the museum to stay at Fair Park one year longer than the city's original deadline, which is August 1 of this year. To which Bowers responded: No such thing.
But the courtroom was empty -- the bailiff said the parties canceled the hearing shortly before this morning's scheduled kick-off time. Why?
"We're trying to resolve the certificate of occupancy issue," Brotherton says. In February, the museum filed for a temporary restraining order, demanding the city keep its hands off the museum; Hoffman, one day later, told the city it couldn't demand a CO till the parties met back in his courtroom. But there's been no meeting, because, as Brotheron says, the museum and the city are close to an agreement on that one issue. "That's basically it."
Bowers tells Unfair Park that the CO is "the only outstanding issue" in the case -- "other than the whole idea of, when do they leave our property for good." He says there's already been one inspection, and two more are scheduled. And, yes, this will take time, Bowers says: Granting the museum a CO "is complicated by the fact they have two buildings on the property built in 1903, which are historic and were built at a time when not all buildings had indoor plumbing."
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If they can get this settled, there are no more court dates set -- not until January 25, when Hoffman has order the trial to begin. That, of course, is well after the city wants the museum to move out of Fair Park and hike it up to Frisco. Bowers says the museum wanted a start date well after that; the city, one well before that. This was a compromise. "But," says Bowers, "we have made it clear to the court we'd prefer an earlier trial date."