School pride is a common thread for all Huntsville City Schools graduates, but that is especially true for alumni and supporters of J.O. Johnson High School. Though the school closed five years ago, its former students continue to be active stakeholders in their community.
Their pride has been a guiding light for the City of Huntsville as it continues to develop the former Johnson campus via public and private partnerships. A recently announced project, Legacy Park, will provide a unique recreational space the community can enjoy for years to come.
Legacy Park will also complement the adjacent Johnson Legacy Center (JLC), a publicly funded recreation center that continues to be popular with the community. Within walking distance of the campus, private developers are building single-family homes with amenities and price points to match any residential development in the City.
Mayor Tommy Battle said the thriving Johnson campus is indicative of a resurgence happening in North Huntsville that began with a commitment to invest in three areas – education, public safety and community. The results, he said, are stronger schools, reduced crime and new home construction.
“It’s a great time to be mayor because we have a great story to tell – a story of success, prosperity and jobs,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have what we have now, but we have it because of a lot of hard work.”
The redevelopment of the Johnson campus and surrounding property has been cheered by District 1 Council Member Devyn Keith, an advocate for the long list of new developments occurring throughout the Northwest part of the City.
“People said these kinds of things couldn’t happen here, but we’re seeing success in Northwest Huntsville, and we’re parlaying that success to do even more,” Keith said.
During a recent Town Hall for District 1 residents, City Administrator John Hamilton explained the public and private collaboration would continue. While a private development company builds single-family homes on the site of Johnson High’s former football practice field, the City will build Legacy Park at the former parking lot.
“The park will function as a piece of public recreational infrastructure in the center of the community,” Hamilton said.
The former school building, which has been used as a Public Safety Training Center, will eventually be demolished to create additional parking for the JLC and another phase of the residential developer’s project.
About Legacy Park
The park, now in the conceptual phase, is being designed by Bostick Landscape Architects. Landscape architect Chad Bostick said the idea with the park was to not only be bold and different, but to also create something that would stand out.
With that in mind, the park will include several features such as a large play area with playground equipment, hillside slides, a walking loop and green space. The main attraction, however, will be two separate green spaces available for groups to rent for family or community events.
Many public events have been traditionally held at Stoner Field Park. While that will remain a great community asset, this new park will add an even better alternative for many gatherings.
“Some of the events that have happened at Stoner Field can be shifted to this location,” Bostick said. “It will be something unique that no other park in Huntsville has.”