CENTRAL, La. (AP) — The Central Community School Board has agreed to pay $14,000 to Cynthia Dantoni for less than a tenth of an acre of land in Central.

The Advocate reports the settlement ended a dispute that was preventing the completion of a third entrance to the new Central Intermediate and Middle schools and was delaying the reopening of Sullivan and Gurney roads where a roundabout is under construction. That work is now expected to be finished in about three weeks.

Dantoni, represented by Lawrence T. Dupré III, an attorney with Perkins and Dupre, sent the school system a demand letter Aug. 8, threatening litigation if the two parties couldn't reach an agreement. The land in dispute is part of a bigger tract on which Dantoni owns rental property.

Attorney Charles Hardie, who works for Central schools, said the settlement is not ideal, noting that the fair market value of the small triangle is only about $2,500. However, he said the settlement is the best course because Dantoni's claim could win in court.

Hardie said that a surveyor hired by Central had documentation from the courthouse showing a public right of way on the piece of land. However, after he reviewed the original 1965 servitude agreement, Hardie said the servitude looked limited, and any right to build on it may well have expired.

Six of seven School Board members voted for the deal Thursday — board member Ruby Foil was absent — and all of them expressed misgivings with the settlement.

Willard Easly asked Hardie what it would cost to not settle. Hardie said the contractor, Boone Services of Baton Rouge, could charge about $1,000 a day for work interruption as well as possible court costs, and that interruption would likely take several weeks to resolve.

"We will pay more than we're looking at now," Easley said.

The board voted in public session soon after Hardie briefed members for about 30 minutes behind closed doors.

Two of three Sullivan Road entrances to the $46 million new school complex are open and in use, as is a rear entrance along Devall Road that is meant for use by buses and school employees.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com