The Pelham Board of Education today approved the acquisition of 19.1 acres off Highway 52 in the Oak Mountain Business Park as the location of a new elementary school.
The board unanimously approved the $1.7 million purchase of land off Applegate Parkway that will eventually serve as the site of a school for kindergarten through fifth grade. The parkway runs through the Oak Mountain Business Park, which features a collection of office and industrial buildings, and connects Highways 52 and 11.
The board is looking at receiving some land through a donation, while talks are continuing for additional adjoining land to serve the school district.
“The other property we’re looking at will compliment this site,” Superintendent Scott Coefield said after today’s board meeting. “This will be the site of the physical plant” for the new elementary school, he said about the 19 acres.
The district has been planning a new elementary school located east of Interstate 65 to serve the city’s growing population in the Weatherly and Ballantrae neighborhoods, as well as other subdivisions in Pelham’s northeast sector toward Chelsea.
The land purchase arrives as the school district is looking to receive upwards of $40 million in funding for construction of the new school as well as renovations and other improvements in the city’s educational system.
Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes told the board today the municipality is securing $35 million in bond funding. Additionally, school district leaders have indicated plans to get possibly another $5 million in loans for the planned improvements.
“This is very exciting for us,” Hayes told the board today. “It’s a great day for the school board and for everyone else.”
Hayes said the property deal will involve the school board purchasing half the land for $1.7 million and the remaining portion received as a donation. He said the total property under the deal will involve about 20 acres.
The new elementary school will serve the city’s eastern side, while Valley Elementary on Highway 31 will operate in Pelham’s western area as a K-5 institution, Coefield said in an interview today.
As part of the district’s grand improvement plan, Pelham High School will undergo significant renovations and Valley Intermediate will be converted to replace Riverchase Middle School.
As for Riverchase located in the city’s extreme northwest area, the district is “evaluating our options,” Coefield said.
The board approved the purchase agreement with Oak Mountain Business Park LLC as the seller. Alabama Secretary of State records list W. Larry Clayton with an office address in Helena as the company’s registered agent. Hayes said Clayton’s family owns the property.
Hayes said a committee consisting of himself, Coefield, school board President Rick Rhoades, board member Brian Long and the district’s architect and building management company evaluated potential sites.
He noted the benefits of site’s location between Highways 11 and 52 with the connection along Applegate Parkway. “You’ve got a full circle,” he said about traffic flow.
Coefield said he expects the planning process for the new elementary school will include teachers and others to ensure proper class space and room for other purposes. “They’ll get the chance to make sure we don’t mess it up,” he said.
The district has reviewed the site and preliminary environmental test results with the architect and others to ensure the location would be suitable for an elementary school, Coefield said.
Rhoades complimented the district’s action on acquiring the property. “We have some land. Now let’s get a school built,” he said.