FLORENCE, Ala. - On Tuesday, the University of North Alabama was granted a temporary order to prevent Florence City Schools from approving a bid to begin construction on the new Florence Middle School. A preliminary injunction order hearing has been set for March 17th. The university sent WHNT a statement which read:
“We had hoped to avoid this step. However, FCS’s sudden decision to restart the bid award process – within seven business days after agreeing to a 30-day delay -- leaves us with no other option for protecting our interests.”
Florence Interim Superintendent Connie Wallace refutes that statement. "Mr. Griffin, who is our board president, originally told them that we had up to 29-days. We never said we were going to wait to the 29th day to do so. Had we done that, look where we would have been?"
UNA had planned to use the extra time to discuss ideas and plans for the middle school property. When they received word that the Board of Education had scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, the university considered it a troubling development.
“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.”
Wallace said she became alarmed about UNA’s intentions to delay the school’s progress late last week during a meeting. "It is what I expected. Honestly this is one reason why I called the board meeting, because I knew after the conversation we had Friday when I point blank asked the question, are you going to sue the school system, the response I got was nothing."
The university's concern with the project revolves around the fact that the proposed design would worsen access and parking at Braly Municipal Stadium.
The school system contends a new middle school will not infringe on the stadium. Wallace says they have until March 24th to approve the winning bid or risk having to start the bidding process over.