HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT) - The potential relocation of Huntsville's biggest high school appears to be gaining momentum, with city officials exploring a proposal that would offer assistance in the move.
City councilman John Olshefski told WHNT News 19 the city would consider picking up the tab for the extension and widening of Weatherly Road so it could carry traffic to a new Grissom High School campus nearby. School board members are considering moving Grissom from its current site on Bailey Cove Road to a much bigger piece of land off Weatherly and the edge of Redstone Arsenal. Overcrowding and limited space at the decades-old campus has become a growing concern in recent years.
"The best option as far as the good of south Huntsville on the whole from more tax capability, more retail, more homes, would be over at Weatherly," said Olshefski, who endorsed the relocation plan. "There's an ability to build 700 plus homes over there. There's commercial space. It's an area that in my own campaign I said needed to be revitalized. It [relocation] is actually a prayer answered."
Preliminary plans call for the portion of Weatherly Road that's west of Memorial Parkway to be expanded to five lanes. The busy thoroughfare currently dead-ends in a shopping plaza that borders the proposed site, with the retail hub likely to benefit from increased traffic.
It's not clear yet what would happen to Grissom's existing campus on Bailey Cove Road if relocation was approved. Olfshefski said potential options include converting the facility for other educational purposes, or selling it.
"We want to go high end," said Olfshefski. "We could hook up with a community college maybe."
Building a new Grissom High School at the current campus also remains an option, with school board members expected to make their final decision in January.
Officials with Huntsville City Schools said building a new Grissom campus at the Weatherly Road site would save taxpayers roughly $4 million, while also taking two less years to build.