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Attorney blocks UNA request to assess Florence Middle School property

FLORENCE, Ala. - An attorney representing the Florence city school system has denied UNA the opportunity to appraise and survey land which is set aside for a new middle school.

We’ve been combing over a response letter from the school system attorney, who alleges UNA is attempting to begin a condemnation process.

022217-ld-middle-school-property-update-5pm-pkg-3There has been a series of letters exchanged between UNA and school board attorneys in the last few days. The latest is a four-page response letter by the school system attorney which essentially is calling UNA’s claim to the Florence Middle School property frivolous.

WHNT News 19 reached out to UNA officials for a copy of the letter from their attorney dated February 20th, but have yet to receive it.

But we get a good indication of what that letter intended by a response letter from Taylor Brooks, the attorney representing the Florence School Board.

Brooks started the letter by saying he’s "confused by UNA’s changing and inconsistent positions," speaking about the middle school property.

Brooks stated UNA was emailed a copy of the architectural drawings for the new school to President Kitts in January of 2016.

After a subsequent meeting between Kitts and superintendent Janet Womack, Kitts sent a follow-up letter. In it he stated UNA was interested in acquiring the middle school property.

His purpose for getting the property was to “address long standing concerns about parking at Braly Stadium.”

022217-ld-middle-school-property-update-5pm-pkgKitts went on to say in the letter “parking was a more pressing issue with our recent announcement to move to Division 1.”

On page three of the letter, Brooks addressed UNA’s request to enter the property pursuant to Alabama code concerning the use of eminent domain. Meaning UNA is considering condemnation of the property and wants to appraise and survey it.

Brooks said because of the way state code is written, UNA lacks the authority to condemn the property. In turn he refused UNA’s entry.

Brooks ended the letter by saying he “hoped UNA understood the Superintendent and Board are acting in the best interest of the students and cease trying to get them to sacrifice the interests of students for additional football parking.”

The school board is scheduled to open bids for the new Florence Middle School on Thursday. The entire school board could then convene Friday afternoon to approve the winning bid.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, attorneys representing UNA have not filed any court documents trying to stop the school board from moving forward.