Officials: New Grissom High Site Could Spark Revitalization

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville city leaders say the relocation of Grissom High School could spark a revitalization of the surrounding area that includes new retail and residential developments.

Residents in the area met Monday evening at an event hosted by the Chaffee Neighborhood Civic Association to learn more about the plan in the works that will bring new retail, housing and the new school in the coming years.

City Councilman John Olshefski told WHNT News 19 the new Grissom site near Weatherly Road and South Memorial Parkway would revive an area that’s been on the decline of late.  Olshefski didn’t mince words about the current business climate near the future site, where empty storefronts and parking lots are easy to spot.

“There’s a perspective that it’s dead there,” said Olshefski, who believes revitalization of the area is long overdue. “We’re an older part of town, and new growth means new opportunities for new families… It could go full spectrum. There’s opportunity to just take what’s old and upgrade it. There’s opportunity to knock it down and start over. We’re always looking for a mid- to upper scale restaurant. We’re looking for better shopping for stores for clothes and those types of things for our folks.”

Councilman Olshefski said some retail developers who would like to set up shop near the new Grissom site have already made inquiries at Huntsville City Hall. He also said some of the land that would border the school is zoned residential, and could accomodate up to 700 new homes. The new Grissom is set to open during the 2016-17 school year.

The relocation of Huntsville’s biggest high school by enrollment is also leading to concerns over traffic flow in an area that already sees plenty of it. Preliminary plans call for the portion of Weatherly Road that’s west of Memorial Parkway to be expanded to five lanes, with the current dead-end at Haysland Square Plaza being extended all the way to the new campus.

Olfshefski said the three-pronged entry way of Weatherly Road, National Boulevard and Meadowbrook Drive is more than enough to offset those traffic concerns, which were addressed in a recent traffic study completed before the new school site was chosen.

“There will be three entryways into the area,” said Olshefski. “The traffic obviously goes north-south, and the roads we’re talking about are going east-west. We’re not saying there won’t be some growing pains with it, but we believe there’s enough capability to handle the traffic.”

The Huntsville City School Board voted to approve a plan the purchase the $2.5 million plot of land off Weatherly Road last May. Officials said students and faculty had long outgrown the aging facility on Bailey Cove Road, which is the smallest land mass for any of the city’s high schools.

27 comments

  • Bill

    Thanks to the local politician’s,(mayor Battle), John Hayes just put more money in his pocket.
    Folks in Eastern Madison County better pay attention to what’s going on. Dale Strong is his gang have now slipped in an Industrial Park just outside of Gurley and next to Hampton Cove. Guess who owns the property? John Hayes. The whole group of politians that represent Madison County are crooks!!!!!!!!!

    • Joanna Walker Funkhouser

      I SOOO agree with you Bill!! I was a huge Battle fan way back in the day while he was still married to his first wife, Jennifer, and ran for Mayor the first time! I went to all his rallies and I was campaigning for him and thought his opposition was low down for bringing up his divorce and the fact that he had to take over the responsibility of his kids when she left town on him. But I’ll tell ya one thing, if I knew then what I know now…I’d NEVER have voted for him. He’s been about lining his pockets ever since he got there!

  • CN

    My questions are what happens to the old Grissom High site on Bailey Cove Rd., future plans? Will it sit vacant like like Johnson Middle School? What about all that deficit of just a couple of years ago? Where will the funds for this new school come from?

  • Nuclear Mike

    Olshefski obviously has not read DoD Hagel’s budget plans for Huntsville…there will be no revitalization with any new school project and the old school becomes a derelict building…

  • Bill

    Their ALL in bed together. Don’t get me wrong….we need the new jobs and the expansion of business. When you deal with this group of politicians….BEWARE!!!!. THEY will step on the little guy to get what THEY want. If the city or county benifits from it, that’s just icing on the cake for the people. Mayor Battle, Dale Strong and all their underlings WILL do anything that makes them look good in the eyes of the voter’s. You can bet there’s pockets being lined by folks like John Hayes and his likes.
    Huntsvillian’s and folks in Madison and Limestone Counties keep your eyes and ears open……There’s a rooster in the hen house.

    • Bob

      Of course he’s going to do things that makes him look good in the eyes of the voters.
      We voted him in to do these things and it’s what gets him re-elected.
      You didn’t make it past seventh grade, did you?

      • Joanna Walker Funkhouser

        The point I am making is that yeah…they are revitalizing the area but make no bones about it…it’s for THEIR good…NOT ours! When Hampton Cove was built, they glued high prices on those homes out there to begin with. Then drainage problems started happening and people couldn’t GET their money back on those homes when they tried to resell them and work had to be redone to build the land back up. Years later…those homes still have not appreciated in value as much as other homes in the district and the people who first bought out there are still holding on waiting for things to get better. Remember that song “Go On, Take The Money And Run”? Well…that’s pretty much what the Hays did out there!

  • Kathy

    The Hays family is looking to rebuild their name….at our expense. You can’t make me believe that the money wasn’t there to rebuild on the same site and purchase the apartments and condos surrounding the land to expand the campus. We have done fine without Wardinski (the Governor) and all the other cronies for years. But now because you have moved us across the Parkway, we are no longer Southeast Huntsville’s finest school…..way to go you nut jobs from out of town. And by the way…..the new Lee High school STILL does NOT have a baseball field nor softball field. So open your eyes people. This greatest and latest expansion rush is coming our way and it will be up to the Booster Clubs AGAIN to rebuild it all. Don’t knock on my door for any money! I have already put in over $4K on the current land. I’m out!

  • Laura

    The Hays family has done many great things for the City of Huntsville. No one complained when they donated, yes .. GAVE all the land to the Nature Preserve, not to mention many other things they have donated to this great City.

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