POWELL, Ala. (WHNT) – Powell City Council has plans to upgrade the town, but not without some controversy.
The plan is to tear down the building that once housed Powell Elementary and Junior High School, the last remaining landmark that connects to its history. Causing a disturbance in the small community.
Some in the historic neighborhood say the demolition will disturb the fabric that connects the entire community.
The city council says that a notice went out about the proposed demolition in September. The Powell descendants say they never received that notice, and they want the demolition halted immediately.
“Normally they put signs in the store, but they didn’t put signs in the store this time,” said Kenley Powell.
The City of Powell was founded by his great-great-grandfather, Don Watson Powell, also known as Doc Powell, in the year 1905. Doc purchased 500 acres of land, and the first building he owned was the building that was unanimously approved to be demolished by the city council.
“It’s an insult to the Powell family, and an insult to everybody in town. And nobody in town is ready to accept this,” said Powell
Nearly half of the descendants in the city are related to Doc. The Powell family says that the city council did not notify anyone in the town about the decision to demolish the historic building.
“On October 13th, we had a public meeting that was announced in that letter for anybody that had any issues to come out and discuss that and no one showed up for the meeting,” said Reggie Byrum, Powell City Council member.
The family says the Doc Powell school building is the last known connection to the Powell legacy. The plan is to turn the building into a new Powell City Hall. Residents told News 19 that the city council had several options for a location.
“It was an operational business with a thousand people a day coming through here a day three months ago so how is it condemned three months later?” asked Kenley Powell. “Did they have a licensed expert come out here and say it was unsafe? And how come they allowed 1,000 people to come in and out of there 3 months ago if it was unsafe? There are grandparents, uncles and aunts who went to school here.”
Byrum said it’s time for a new structure as an upgrade for the town.
“It’s very passionate to me as well but we feel like we’ve been elected to do what’s best for the town and we feel like it’s in the best interest of the town to take that building down and replace it with a better building.”
According to the deed, Doc Powell donated 5 acres of land for a school in 1947. Powell Elementary and Junior High was always known as the Doc Powell school.