Attorney prepared to sue Ferriday on behalf of client over land dispute

Published 12:11 am Monday, April 28, 2014

FERRIDAY — An Alexandria attorney representing a Ferriday resident says he’s prepared to file a lawsuit against the town to receive public records regarding an alleged mishandled land bid.

A’Ron Thomas placed a bid on 35 acres of land on Serio Boulevard in January, which was one of several surplus properties the town put out for bid.

The town’s board of aldermen awarded Thomas the land in January after his bid of $15,000 was the only one the town received.

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Before the aldermen approved the bid, Ferriday Mayor Gene Allen told board members he didn’t feel the bid was adequate for the land.

“I think the land is worth more than that,” Allen said in January. “The board can do as they please. I advise this board, we should rebid it.”

At the following meeting in February, the town reversed its decision with Allen saying the town had made “some mistakes” regarding the process for selling the surplus property.

“I got a letter from the (town) attorney telling us how you sell public property,” Allen said in February. “We did not follow the law. We didn’t pass an ordinance and didn’t get the property appraised to establish minimum bid.

“I’ll take responsibility for it.”

Town attorney Myisha Davis told the board the property should have been appraised before any bid was accepted.

Several aldermen questioned why the land was brought before the board in the first place if the correct procedures had not been followed.

“I don’t have to do the research,” Davis said. “This is the law.”

Davis said the law also states the board doesn’t have to accept the bid just because one was made.

“You don’t have to sell this property,” she said in February. “By law, you don’t have to accept (the bid).”

Alderman Johnnie Brown said he felt the situation was unfair to Thomas, who had properly placed his bid with the town.

“You are right, it’s unfair to him, but we made an error here,” Allen said.

The board voted to seek an opinion from the State Attorney General’s office on the matter at the February meeting.

Alderman Elijah “Stepper” Banks said this week he believes the request was never sent to the attorney general’s office.

“We haven’t heard anything back on that because it was never sent off,” Banks said.

Kelvin Sanders, an Alexandria attorney representing Thomas, appeared before the board in April and turned in a public records request for all documents relating to the sale of the property.

Sanders said Friday there had been no response by the town regarding his request, and his client was prepared to file a lawsuit to obtain the records.

“We’re only going to wait so long,” Sanders said. “I want to see what (the town) did, so I can verify if (the town) followed the correct procedure.

“If (the town) didn’t, I’m going to file suit on behalf of my client.”

Without having seen the records, Sanders said the town could have chosen not to accept the bid with the intention of opening the property back up for bids and receiving a higher bid.

“That shouldn’t be how it works, but that may be how it’s working in Ferriday,” Sanders said.

Allen said the town had received Sanders’ request for the public records and was working to complete the request.