UNA gets temporary restraining order for Florence middle school

(Source: WAFF)
(Source: WAFF)
Updated: Mar. 7, 2017 at 7:25 PM CST
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FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - The University of North Alabama has filed a temporary restraining order against Florence City Schools delaying the board from awarding a construction bid for the middle school property directly adjacent to Braly Stadium.

Judge Gilbert Self granted the university a temporary hold for 10 days for the middle school property.

The preliminary injunction hearing for the school and the university to present their evidence to the judge.is set for March 17.

"I feel like we will win this. We want what's best for the children and we want what's best for the citizens, but UNA and we all partner together and we want what's best for all of us," said interim Superintendent Connie Wallace.

The school board was planning to approve a bid Tuesday night but cancelled the special meeting. The school district and the university have been butting heads over the rebuilding of the middle school where the old Coffee High School - formerly Florence Middle School - stood.

University officials believe the proposed design of the new building would worsen access and parking issues to the stadium and thought the school board was going to give a 29-day delay on the bid award process.

The board said the bid has to be approved within 30 days, which will be March 24. The university pledged to use the delay wisely and proposed a task force, a new oversight mechanism for Braly Stadium, and started talking with the architect regarding design modifications that could address the parking concerns.

"We are puzzled and disheartened by the sudden change of heart on the 30-day delay, and by the fact that it came without any advance notice to UNA and other stakeholders. Once again, there is a lack of cooperation and a rush to judgment that will negatively impact UNA and the Florence community for the next half century," said UNA President Ken Kitts and Board President Martin Abroms in a statement. "We continue to believe that there is a way of reconciling UNA's interests with those of Florence City Schools, but the search for such a solution cannot be rushed."

Wallace said Tuesday that she was expecting the restraining order after calling the board meeting. She said it was a tactical move so that the district wouldn't miss out on the two construction bid opportunities.

Wallace said that when she asked on Friday if the school system is going to be sued and didn't hear a response from the university, she wanted to move the process along. She added that Florence City School Board President Bill Griffin mentioned that they had up to 29 days but she said, "We never said we were going to wait till the 29th day to award a bid."

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