A family hoping to save their home made another plea to the Aldine Independent School District on Tuesday night, with a room full of supporters behind them.
“I’m here today to ask you not to take his home. I’m asking you, have you thought about what this will do to his mental health?” asked one woman who did not know the family but showed up to speak on their behalf.
Travis Upchurch, the 79-year-old homeowner, claims that Aldine ISD wants his property to renovate and expand the district’s football stadium, but he doesn’t want to move.
The family says they had an opportunity to speak with the district’s attorneys on Monday, and they are optimistic but not certain the two parties will be able to come to an agreement.
“We’ve been talking to intermediaries, negotiators, and we just want to have them hear us face to face,” said his daughter, Tara Upchurch.
“It is pretty obvious that you have been given bad counsel and are not acting in the spirit or on behalf of this community,” said another man who spoke during public comment during the board meeting.
The Upchurch family’s property has been in their family since 1905. Last spring, AISD requested to purchase the land. In April 2023, the school board voted to take the property by eminent domain so that the district can move forward with its $50-million project to replace Thorne Stadium, a football facility they say has been a fixture in the community since 1979.
“I’ve never seen a parking lot filled up for a football game—and they are saying they need my place and my mother’s place for parking,” said Travis Upchurch.
Board policies kept trustees from responding to the public’s comments, but the district released a statement:
“Balancing the needs of our school district to support student safety and education while also preserving our community history requires delicate conversations. Negotiations continue and additional direct dialogue with the Upchurch family is underway to discuss viable options related to the family’s property. We are hopeful to reach a mutually beneficial resolution very soon. No condemnation suit has been filed at this time.
At a board meeting on June 14, 2022, the Aldine ISD Board of Trustees approved plans to build a state-of-the-art facility that would meet established safety standards as well as create an enhanced experience for our student-athletes, parents, spectators, and other members of the community. "
“Anyone who hears this story is outraged on his behalf because it’s just crazy that they want to take his property. He’s 79, he’s been here for 50-plus years, his family has been on that property for over 100 years, and for what,” said Tara Upchurch.
Travis Upchurch is asking the board to let him keep his home until he passes or is no longer able to live on his property alone.