CRESTVIEW — The City Council will not pursue a settlement to end dispute of a downtown alley's ownership.
City leaders tonight voted 3-2 to not settle with the late Purl G. Adams' family who claim ownership of property near Florida A&M University's Pharmacy School.
The topic was discussed at length after city attorney Jerry Miller gave each council member a copy of the proposed settlement he had reached with Barbara S. Adams and family.
"There is a settlement in the financial amount of $55,000 to Mrs. (Barbara) Adams," Miller said, adding the proposed agreement would ensure the city's property ownership.
Council members Mickey Rytman and Shannon Hayes wanted to settle. However, Council President Robyn Helt and Councilman Thomas Gordon opposed the notion.
"I don't think I can support paying for something that we already had access to," Gordon said.
Helt agreed, stating she wouldn't use taxpayer funds to purchase the alley, which the city believes it owns.
Initially, Councilman Joe Blocker motioned to approve the settlement agreement, with a second motion by Hayes.
When Gordon asked what would happen if the council voted against the settlement, Miller said the alley claim would remain unsettled.
"A party could bring a civil action to obtain a judicial result," Miller said.
After much discussion, Helt requested a five-minute recess so that city clerk Betsy Roy could provide a copy of the November 1942 deed.
A warranty deed from Purl G. Adams, his wife Edna and W.R. Taylor gave the alley to the city in exchange for $10 and future considerations.
"I'm holding an official document on file with the city clerk's office ... it says this city owns that property," Helt said.
Hayes changed his stance on the issue.
"With this right here and what I am seeing, I am going to think another way," he said. "Based on what I am holding in my hand, I say fight it. If we lose, we lose."
In a role call vote, Hayes, Helt and Gordon voted against the settlement, while Rytman and Blocker voted in favor.
The alley in dispute serves Main Street businesses that occupy buildings originally owned by Adams. Some are still owned by his daughter-in-law, Barbara, and his grandson, Purl Adams III, who claim the alley is part of their property, noting the former Alatex Building didn’t have a door to the alley until FAMU refurbished the structure.
The alley has since been renovated by FAMU, which believed it had acquired the right-of-way when the city turned over the Alatex Building to the university. Today, a new paved walk runs the alley’s length, sodded on either side, and new walkways have been laid to the rear doors of the block’s Main Street businesses.
A phone call to the Adams family was not immediately returned by press deadline.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.