City councilman talks about long-term vision for J.O. Johnson school property

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The future of the site of the former J.O. Johnson High School is one of the big-ticket items on the agenda for the Huntsville City Council.  It's also top of mind for new District 1 Councilman Devyn Keith.

"Johnson is a little unique," said Keith. "Johnson was built in the 60's so it's a little bit of an older stock in the way that they constructed buildings. It has over 300,000 square feet."

In 2016, two public forums were held to discuss what north Huntsville residents would like the now-vacant high school property to become.

Some residents said retail space, others said parks and recreation.

Keith says many ideas have been tossed back and forth in the long-range planning process.

"Potentially having more residential in the area," said Keith. "Ya know, sort of bleeding over from the residential, maybe new houses, maybe apartment complexes, loft areas."

Keith adds the potential name of 'Johnson Cove,' with office and recreation space, but he wants to make one thing very clear.

"I want the individuals of District One, including myself to have something we're proud of with the name, with the legacy, but also something that makes feasible sense," said Keith.

Whatever the outcome is, making sure a distinction of what is needed versus what is wanted, Keith says will be the ultimate deciding factor.

The councilman plans to have more community involvement opportunities for the space around February 2017.

By the way, Councilman Keith and new District 1 School Board Member Michelle Watkins will hold a town hall meeting this coming Monday, Dec. 12. It will be from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at G's Country Kitchen, located at 2501 Oakwood Avenue NW.