Performance and recreation space coming to former Grissom Campus

single-meta-cal February 1, 2017

Students who will attend the new Grissom High School beginning next fall will enjoy spectacular new surroundings. Meanwhile, the Grissom campus being left behind will provide a multitude of opportunities to benefit the community.

That was among the messages from Dr. Jennie Robinson, who represents District 3 on the Huntsville City Council.

Robinson, who also serves as City Council president, recently held a community meeting at the Bailey Cove branch of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library. More than 40 of her constituents were on hand for the briefing, which also encompassed updates on infrastructure, economic development, Ditto Landing and public parks.

Grissom’s new building, located just off Memorial Parkway at the Weatherly Road intersection, is an $80 million building that is the final piece of the Huntsville City Schools construction boom of the past several years.

According to Robinson, the new Grissom will be ready to open in August as the new school year opens. “I know teachers and students are excited to get in there,” she said.

There are plans in place for underclassmen to visit the new campus in spring “so they can become acclimated as to where their classes are, because it’s very different,” Robinson said. Then, with a chuckle, she added, “This one has windows.”

The old campus on Bailey Cove Road will get new life as a community complex. The City of Huntsville, as part of its ongoing commitment to Huntsville City Schools, will take over ownership once the transfer to the new building is completed. A number of entities will become involved.

  • Arts Huntsville will assume management of the auditorium, band room, choir room and adjacent offices, and a request has been made to take over the lunchroom as well. The auditorium would provide a lower-cost alternative for Huntsville’s high demand for performance space. No fewer than five arts and performing companies have expressed interest in becoming residents in the space. An art gallery is tentatively planned, and the lunchroom could be utilized as an event space.
  • Next January, demolition is expected to begin on the portion of the building north of the auditorium to make room for a new branch library.

The City of Huntsville has budgeted $2 million for the library project, as has Madison County. (District 5 County Commissioner Phil Riddick joined Robinson at the community meeting.)

Robinson said some $7 million has been raised from the private sector and though another $1.5 million is needed to pay for the project, “most of the heavy lifting has been done.”

“It will be a gathering place, the heart of the complex,” Robinson said.

Though space in the building would seem to be pretty well spoken-for, there has been discussion to move a Madison County license office branch into the building, replacing the location that was closed when the Star Supermarket on Bailey Cove shut its doors.

Robinson said the complex would be named in honor of the late Sandra Moon, a former District 3 Council Member.

“She was a Council member for 12 years, my mentor and a wonderful public servant for south Huntsville,” Robinson called her. The naming cannot become official until the City takes control of the property, but Robinson said her suggestion to honor Moon had been met with widespread approval and “I’m not going to let people forget it.”

Sticky Note Map at Council President Robinson's January Town Hall Meeting

Participants at the January 30 Community Meeting visualized the many projects happening in District 3 with a few sticky notes and a map. From road construction on South Memorial Parkway to greenway expansions and the new Grissom High School, there’s no shortage of activity.