UNA requests restraining order to prevent bid approval

by Staff Writer Ciera Golliver

UNA President Ken Kitts and UNA Board of Trustees President Pro Tempore Martin Abroms issued a statement March 7 regarding recent developments with the Florence Board of Education about the location of the new Florence Middle School and what it means for Braly Stadium.

The University requested a temporary restraining order to prevent the Board of Education from approving a bid to begin construction on the middle school after learning they scheduled a meeting to award the bid, according to Kitts and Abroms’ statement.

“We had hoped to avoid this step,” Kitts and Abroms said in the statement. “Florence City School’s sudden decision to restart the bid award process leaves us with no other option for protecting our interest.”

Florence Board of Education Interim Superintendent Connie Wallace gave written approval to a 30-day delay March 3, allowing the active stakeholders of Braly Stadium a chance to voice their concerns. Seven business days later, the Board of Education restarted the bidding process.

“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,” the statement said. “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.”

During the delay, UNA met with the architect for the new school to discuss the plans and how it will affect Braly Stadium. The statement said the current design would significantly decrease the monetary value of Braly Stadium, a multi-million dollar community asset.

The statement said the Board of Education was never willing to consider alternative locations for the new school. UNA wants the stakeholders of Braly to be involved in the decision which could possibly cripple the stadium.

“UNA officials have a responsibility to act when our interests are threatened,” the statement said. “Legal agreements must be honored, our financial investments must be protected and the needs of our students (many of whom call Florence home) must be given due consideration.”

Kitts said the four stakeholders govern operations at the stadium through a legally binding use agreement. This agreement covers everything from the sharing of costs to stadium parking.

“Compliance with the agreement by the signatories is not discretionary,” the statement said.  “It is a matter of the law. Lack of compliance will result in the breach of a contract that has been honored by all parties for the last 40 years.”