Category Archives: Special topics

Survey Question #2 results: What do we want for Homewood to Improve?

“Walkability,” “Safety” and “Neighborhood Attractiveness” are the top three concerns of respondents, who frequently commented on oversized houses, street parking and the need for more green space and trees. This development on Broadway was the site of a pocket park proposed by residents but voted down by the council in 2013.

In May, we surveyed Homewood residents to rank the top five reasons they live in Homewood. Those responses yielded 11 reasons, of which schools ranked #1 overall and as respondents’ overwhelming first choice. This month we took those results and asked respondents to pick three of those areas that could be improved from better planning, investment or other renewal. That survey returned 296 responses, of which the top answer was clearly Walkability, with 149 responses, followed by Safety (121), Neighborhood Attractiveness (108) and again, Schools (105). A close also-ran was Parks, with 91 responses.

Woodland park tree planting 2016

As before, respondents were able to give free-text comments for each answer, and those clarifications are summarized below. In general, its important to note that “Safety” frequently refers to traffic enforcement over more serious crime–and includes improving child safety by building more sidewalks and crosswalks, or keeping parked cars off the streets. There was significant overlap in responses to Neighborhood Attractiveness, Safety, Walkability and Parks. Out of the 91 comments on improving parks, nearly all mentioned adding pocket parks to downtown or neighborhoods, adding green space, trails, trees and landscaping, The best recent example would be the 2012 petition and grassroots movement to establish a pocket park on Broadway and Carr Avenue, which the council voted down 7-4 on Sept. 16, 2013) 

Schools category responses favored facilities and staff expansions to reduce classroom crowding and increase teacher/student ratio. The Schools category attracted the fewest comments (44) of all top answers.

Both surveys were circulated primarily through four Homewood Facebook discussion groups, as well as by email and subsequent sharing. Each category below contains the breakdown of responses by ward. The chart showing responses of all 10 categories is at the bottom along with a link to all responses.

Walkability (149)

The 2007 Master Plan calls for more connectivity within and between neighborhoods and better integration of neighborhoods with trails and green spaces. Lakeshore Drive and other roads are barriers to the trail.

Over half of the 296 respondents chose Walkability as the city asset most in need of improvement, with most of those citing “more sidewalks” (less frequently but importantly bike lanes, trails, and paths) in comments added in 2/3 of the responses. In addition to more sidewalks, respondents specified wanting sidewalks to connect important areas such as neighborhoods to retail areas, to

pocket parks, schools, to the library, or to each other. Many responding with this answer and “Safety,” below, also mentioned crosswalks and pedestrian bridges from residential areas to the Lakeshore greenway, for example, to Samford, to Brookwood mall, and connecting east and west neighborhoods over Green Springs Highway.

There were specific calls for sidewalks on Berry Road, Saulter Road, in Forest Brook, on Carr Avenue, and West Oxmoor Road.

“Any sidewalk is good but the real value comes when a sidewalk makes an unwalkable street walkable and especially one that provides a high level of connectivity. … Take Saulter Rd for example. … Yes it would be a costly project but there would be no greater return on that investment. Let’s be real not political.”

Safety (121)

Traffic along Reese Street is a nightmare. Commenters choosing “Safety” as a concern most often cited better enforcement of speeding, traffic and street parking.

Safety was the second area respondents chose as needing improvement. The clearest call from over 70 comments was for more traffic enforcement, especially of speeders, and to reducing street parking in neighborhoods and dangerous turn maneuvers on U.S. 31 and Green Springs Highway. The next most cited request was for more visible neighborhood patrol, perhaps with officers on bikes or on foot, rather than Tahoes.

Residents are aware that police and fire department salaries should be raised.

Beside traffic enforcement, comments were spread across many topics, such as “cleaning up” prostitution near west motels, apartments, Green Springs Highway, West Valley Avenue and Wildwood.

“Thankful for our city police but I wish they would find more funding for police and fire who do a great job of keeping our community safe.”

Several comments mentioned wanting more attention to thefts and break-ins and better public relations, such as reporting crime rates, following up on incident reports, and communicating with the public.

Neighborhood Attractiveness (108)

New houses push the limits of Homewood’s smaller lots.

Respondents think alike when it comes to neighborhood appearances, and the list of improvements is long. They want more trees, better landscaping and maintenance in common areas and rights of way, streets paved, curbs repaired, parked cars off of streets, old, leaning signs replaced, litter cleaned up, and codes enforced.

This topic drew the most comments as a percentage of responses than any other. In general order of frequency, comments called for enforcing nuisance codes to “clean up” yards, remove or repair abandoned houses, place limits on housing size, preserve trees and enforce regulations to maintain construction sites. Several responses asked to set up a Design Review committee for residences.

“I am very concerned about the loss of canopy and paving of large portions of single home lots for large driveways etc.”

Schools (105) 

Parents’ top priority was more classroom space and teachers to keep teacher-student ratio low.

Yes, respondents called for investment in school improvements just slightly less often than Neighborhood Attractiveness, but the topic drew the fewest comments of the top five.

Top answers all concerned relieving classroom overcrowding by expanding schools buildings and hiring more teachers to improve teacher-student ratio. There is a need for larger gym and better fields, according to one answer.

Several respondents were aware of the funding competition between ballfields and school buildings, saying that schools were their priority. They called for the city to limit housing size in the face of the school overcrowding, and maintain school funding however possible.

“The solution and funding for the schools absolutely must be the priority for Homewood. It is clear that the reason people live here/move here is for the education….”

Academically, comments asked for more foreign language courses, enrichment classes, and for money to be spent on teachers and teacher resources versus administration. Some parents found the school top-heavy in administration. They felt the majority of students in average category needed the same attention given to gifted and special needs students.

Parks (91)

Residents want more natural areas, trails and pocket parks in neighborhoods, such as Overton Park

Comments on preserving trees, adding trails, pocket parks–especially downtown–and green space were so ubiquitous throughout all categories it seems unfair not to include the fifth-place “Parks” section.

Respondents clearly used the term “Parks” to describe passive parks, trails, green spaces, community gardens and pocket parks. Of the 65 total comments, the greatest response was the call to add more pocket parks, green spaces and trails, and connect them systematically. Downtown was frequently cited as devoid of planned green spaces, or “95% hardscape.” There was a chorus of comments supporting establishment of an urban park in the soon-to-be-vacated jail space. Citywide across all categories, comments called for more tree planting, more green space, more pocket parks, more trails, more tree buffers along creeks and streams and more neighborhood parks. Are parks and street maintenance compatible departments under the same department head, as in Homewood? One commenter didn’t think so. Two others said there was too much Rec and not enough Parks in Homewood.

“Parks are one thing and Recreation is another. In Homewood, they are all mainly about organized (paid) recreation. Could use a dose of enlightenment in our parks department.”

The top 5 responses are out of 10 categories available from Survey #1, and comments to all are worth reading. Below is a chart of the numbers of responses in each category and link to the open survey; copy and paste in your browser if the link isn’t live. After following the link, click the Individual Responses tab and use the arrows to scroll through responses (one response was deleted to hide personal information): https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-6ZDZVS9P/

What We Want for Homewood survey, question #1 results, May 20, 2017

Schools are Homewood’s most valuable asset in this survey overwhelming top priority for a third of respondents and the top choice overall.

Would anyone be surprised that a survey of Homewood’s most valued advantages would show “Schools” as the overwhelming first choice? An informal survey asking neighborhood respondents to rank the top five reasons to live in Homewood returned 301 responses, minus a few off-topic, showing just that. Of all respondents, more than a third overall listed schools as their top priority and more than two thirds overall chose schools as a reason to live in Homewood. Since the survey allowed free-text answers, their praise made it clear they thought the system deserved the top listing.

Schools Schools Schools Schools Schools

Chart showing top five answers, by rank. The remaining answers are in a separate table (below).

Nor was it surprising that “convenience” and “sense of community” followed close behind as top answers, with 224 and 218 responses respectively. In looking at the answers, 80% of those listing “convenience” in the top five referred to Homewood’s proximity to downtown Birmingham, UAB, and a few outside destinations. The remainder referred to convenience to in-town destinations, such as stores, restaurants, and churches. Answers sorted into “Community,” on the other hand, typically either used that exact word or described an intangible sense of connectedness with people in the city, usually neighbors, but often city workers or local businesses.

1. Schools 2. Diversity 3. Creative/progressive culture, yet keep Homewood’s old, small town feeling 4. Shopping/historic business districts 5. Support of independent owned businesses

“Walkability,” a planning and transportation buzzword with apparent real-life merit, earned the #4 spot in respondents’ list, a pay-off for Homewood’s focus on sidewalk installation over the last six years. From context respondents meant the ability to walk (and run and bike) anywhere in town, walk their dogs, have pleasant walks, etc., rather than referring to neighborhoods built around dense shopping cores.

Finally, “Safety,” whose meaning we take at face value but which may refer to policing and fire protection and other factors, earned the last spot of the top five.

The rest of the story

Full survey results

The interesting answers are the ones that didn’t make the top five:  For example, a strong number of answers listed “Diversity” across all five ranks, sometimes spelling out that they valued racial diversity and open-mindedness in schools (as opposed to other OTM systems), sometimes diversity in their neighbors’ point of views and political leanings. Many used the word to refer to a variety of housing styles available, or variety in general (Homewood not a cookie-cutter community).

1. Location – easy access, urban community 2. Walkable – “green,” environmental concerns 3. Amenities – library, parks, community center, shopping 4. Quality of education 5. Sense of Community – good mix of residential, commercial, professional – celebrates history and future

Categories that need further explanation include Charm, etc., which includes a wide variety of answers referring to such physical characteristics as charm, quaintness, historic housing styles and neighborhoods, preservation of cottage-sized houses, and shade-tree lined streets.  The Miscellaneous categories ballooned in the lower ranks with answers ranging from very specific mention of “Accountability” to “Nature Preservation” to “Fitness,” “Progressivism,” and smaller numbers of references to trees and green spaces that didn’t seem to fit the category of Parks. Top mentions are listed on the category.

 

Open letter regarding closed process for hiring consultant B. L. Harbert, March 19, 2017

Council president Bruce Limbaugh, center, with Ward 4 councilmember Barry Smith, during one of two public forums about the $110 million bond issue. The matter is being handled by a “task force” of city officials, and closed to the public.

The full council is voting TOMORROW/MONDAY, March 20th on who will project manage the $110 bond money without the usual procedure of taking it through the Finance committee or having a public hearing. I ask that you take a minute to read the following and then forward to your council person– should you be concerned. The Task Force is recommending Harbert as PM for all of the projects, this is also the company who did the “free study” (which was a seriously detailed 20+ slide PPT analyzing the schools and parks current situation and also against the law to provide free services to a government entity) last year. Your council people are listed at the bottom and forward to friends who also might be concerned how the city is doing business.

Highlights:

  • The task force was put together without a consensus of the entire council and did not have any new council people included.
  • Information on all 5 bids was not given to all council members.
  • The public was unable to see the bids or hear the Q&A between the task force and the bidding companies (The public, including another council person was asked to leave during that portion of each presentation).
  • Normal RFP and bidding procedures were not followed – 1 example: Bidding company usually presents to the entire voting body.

How can the rest of the council people vote when not given all the information??

To My Homewood City Council Representative,

We are requesting from you, council representatives, to reject the motion to accept the recommendation of the task force to name the project manager for the $110M Bond expenditure at the March 20, 2017, City Council Meeting. We understand the time sensitivity of the expenditure, especially for the Parks and Recreations Board, but feel that you need ample time to understand the rationale of the Task Force’s recommendation. We have requested from the Task Force Chairman to supply all of you with the proposals of the three main bidders – Harbert, HPM, and Robins and Morton. The Task Force based their recommendation on compatibility, finance, and track record. Of the members present, they voted unanimously to recommend Harbert.

Harbert definitely had the advantage of compatibility and track record with the City of Homewood. The free study that was performed by Harbert was not a comprehensive study and it violated state laws regarding providing free services when pursuing business from a government entity.

The questions that we wish for you to consider after your study of the proposals forwarded to you by Task Force Chairman, Bruce Limbaugh, are the following:

Were recommendations sought out from other school systems in the state which have had similar projects?
What references have been performed on all three proposals?
Did all proposals include a shared savings component?
How do you define track record? If it is defined as a relationship with the City of Homewood, how could HPM and Robins and Morton compete?
Did the proposals include a conflict of interest?

The $110M bond is of utmost interest to the Homewood Community and you, the representatives, need to intimately know and understand the proposals from the top three bidders. We are asking you to fully vet the Task Force recommendation and not blindly vote on the motion to vote for the mayor to precede with contracts on Monday night We kindly request that you table the vote on March 20 in order to perform your fiduciary duty to the citizens of Homewood to ensure the most wise investment of this massive amount of our money occurs.

A called City Council Meeting on the vote on the Task Force recommendation after fully investigated would be the wise and prudent course of action. I do not know how you would back a vote to which you do not have all of the information.

Concerned Homewood Citizens for Transparency

 

Rosedale repair and renewal, Feb. 21, 2017

Mary Edwards at the Rosedale Community Development Committee meeting, asking for action on a list of concerns.

Mary Edwards at the Rosedale Community Development Committee meeting, asking for action on a list of concerns.

After a 90-minute meeting Tuesday night, Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer pledged to put city effort immediately into fixing broken street lights, replacing missing street signs and completing other small public works projects in Rosedale, where 65+ Homewood residents showed up to talk about maintenance concerns in the historically black, low-income neighborhood.

But he refused to seal that declaration by signing a petition asking for much, much more.

“That’s not really how it works,” McBrayer told member Jeremy Love, a Rosedale resident who since January has been circulating a change.org petition asking for housing help for elderly and disabled, new playgrounds at the Lee Community Center and park, retail/business development, historic recognition, signage and gateways, and funding for an economic development plan similar to one in West Homewood. Love is a member–but apparently a frustrated one–of the Rosedale Community Development Corporation, an advocacy group that has met regularly for years and which officially hosted the mayor and two councilmen at last night’s meeting.

Despite the meeting length, it adjourned with no clear next step and apparent disagreement between two RCDC factions and even among audience members about what course of action to take.

Jeremy Love, Mayor Scott McBrayer, councilman Britt Thames, RCDC moderator Doug Clapp and councilman Andy Gwaltney

Jeremy Love, Mayor Scott McBrayer, councilman Britt Thames, RCDC moderator Doug Clapp and councilman Andy Gwaltney

The group, led by Dennis Bush, was “moderated” last night by RCDC member Doug Clapp, a Samford classics professor and Rosedale resident who has been working in the neighborhood since 2001. Clapp said it was he, not Love, who invited the mayor and Ward 1 reps Britt Thames and Andy Gwaltney after residents had compiled a list of their concerns during a meeting in November, including a demand for public clean-up of dilapidated properties.

At their request, the city in January identified 13 properties that meet the criteria for formal abatement (public repair or demolition of unsafe structures). The police chief was also given six locations to investigate where there were disabled vehicles or cars parked in yards.

Rosedale resident Mary Edwards, 84, scolds the council for not considering the needs of Rosedale in planning to use the tax and bond windfall.

Rosedale resident Mary Edwards, 84, scolded the council in December for not considering the needs of Rosedale in planning to use the tax and bond windfall.

But the meeting also appeared to materialize after 84-year-old Mary Edwards of Rosedale was allowed to speak at a Dec. 19 council forum about the $110 million bond issue approved for schools, parks and police. Edwards, who has become the face of Rosedale’s grievances in recent news and a WBHM radio feature, asked for a share of the money for Rosedale, shaming the council for its neglect of the area, and asking for a show of hands if anyone thought it was “fair.” Love spoke at a second forum Jan. 30 with a formal–and ambitious–wish list spelled out in the petition. The petition [ https://www.change.org/p/city-of-homewood-alabama-capital-improvements-for-rosedale-revitalization ] now has more than 200 signatures.

Love and Edwards appear to have lost patience with the progress of the RCDC.

“We want funding for a plan,” Love told the mayor Tuesday. “[City Council president] Bruce Limbaugh asked for a prioritized list. I am presenting it now, to allocate money for a plan,” he said. “Here and now.”

Mayor McBrayer asks the RCDC audience to communicate by phone and email, not petitions.

Mayor McBrayer asks the RCDC audience to communicate by phone and email, not petitions.

During the meeting Thames and Gwaltney outlined the arduous legal process that allows a government to force the repair of dilapidated property, calling it the “step of last resort.” Edwards later stood up to challenge city officials: “How long will it take for us to get what we asked for?” she said. “Stop putting us on the back burner.” The mayor, who bantered with Edwards about his personal integrity, quoting the Bible, said residents should report problems quickly and through the usual channels such as phone calls and emails–not petitions.

The audience seemed divided on whether abatement and nuisance enforcement were positive steps, however. One resident recalled having a car towed when she was an unemployed single mother taking care of her own mother. “Before you start doing things, you should knock on doors to see what’s going on inside the house,” she said. Another resident recounted having property “taken” through an abatement process, although city officials disputed the details. Housing abatement doesn’t ordinarily give the government title to private property, they said.

A screenshot of an interactive map of Rosedale showing blighted properties and proposed amentiies

A screenshot of an interactive map of Rosedale showing blighted properties and proposed amenities. https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1qnVESEOEs-hlj_6pCs3te5wJ1XQ&ll=33.484650268737425%2C-86.78923485000001&z=16

As described, the abatement process begins by identifying unsafe properties and contacting owners to make necessary repairs. If owners don’t respond, the property can be referred to an Abatement Board for action. At that point, the owner is given 60 days to comply before the matter is referred to the city council. Abatement can include repairs or demolition, with costs attached to the property in the form of a lien. Council decisions can be appealed to state circuit court.

Love was recently appointed by the council to the Ward 1 seat on the city’s Abatement Board.

“If this is what the community wants, then we have the power to do it,” councilman Thames said.

 

New Building Inspections chief starts work, Dec. 7, 2016

Wyatt Pugh replaces Jim Wyatt

Wyatt Pugh

Wyatt Pugh Directs the Department of Building, Engineering and Zoning

A different kind of Wyatt is leading Homewood’s Building Inspections department now. On Dec. 6, Wyatt Pugh became Homewood’s Building Inspections chief, filling the vacancy left when predecessor Jim Wyatt departed for a job in Hoover months earlier. Before coming to Homewood, Pugh worked nine years as a Commercial and Residential building inspector for Birmingham city and prior to that was self employed 10 years as a contractor doing residential and light commercial building and remodeling. (Pugh maintains his Alabama Homebuilder’s and Remodeler’s license.)

In 1991. he graduated from the University of Montevallo with a finance degree.

Beyond Pugh’s job relevant credentials, he is a long-time guitarist who with his wife leads the event band Rock Candy, playing weddings, corporate functions, and private parties, etc. Pugh’s FB pages give a public glimpse into his talents and interests, which include pencil portraiture and restoring old cars.

Welcome to Mr. Pugh.

Open Letter concerning recently passed tax and bond issue for schools and city projects, Nov. 29, 2016

Bob Echols, center, sits with neighbors who objected to writing a "blank check" to the schools with little study or public deliberation to support it. The school board violated its own policies by accepting the unpaid land use study by B.L. Harbert, one resident said. All complained that a regressive "forever" sales tax was being passed to support a project with a finite set of expenses.

Bob Echols, center, sits with family who objected to writing a “blank check” to the schools with little study or public deliberation to support it. The school board violated its own policies by accepting the unpaid land use study by B.L. Harbert, one resident said. All complained that a regressive “forever” sales tax was being passed to support a project with a finite set of expenses.

The “open letter” imaged here (and pdf link, below) has been posted on various sites around Homewood following the momentous passage of a penny sales tax and $110 million bond issue to help finance schools and parks facilities for a growing population of children in Homewood. The vote followed what city leaders called a 21-month period of concerted work and deliberation, apparently across three boards (council, education and parks & rec) and the mayor’s office, without public meetings or disclosure. The mayor, in congratulating the council for its leadership on behalf of Homewood children, said the 21-month effort probably “escaped public notice.”

letterhwcitizensIn fact, those deliberations took place in a way to avoid public detection, either by the voters or by those who campaigned for council, who say they had no idea about the tax and bond plans leading up to the August municipal election. The Board of Education made its first public presentation in September, outlining plans to expand four of its five schools and relocate the high school to West Oxmoor Road, on land already purchased by the city for $4.5 million.

letterhwcitizensp2The open letter distributed today calls for an open forum of city leaders to answer a series of questions developed about how the money will be allocated now that the decision to tax and borrow has already been made, and how the decisions themselves were reached. It includes contact information for the council to get the conversations started. (Calls and emails might also be placed to the city attorney, Mike Kendrick, Mayor Scott McBrayer, parks chief Berkley Squires and park board chairman Chris Meeks.) The school board’s contact information is on its website, along with the land study leading up to the September presentation:  http://www.homewood.k12.al.us/?DivisionID=22205&ToggleSideNav=ShowAll

President – Bruce Limbaugh bruce@limbaughtoyota.com

Ward 1 – Britt Thames bthames1@gmail.com

Andy Gwaltney – andy@andygwaltney.com

Ward 2 – Mike Higginbotham –  higginbotham@realtysouth.com

Andrew Wolverton – Andrew.j.wolverton@gmail.com

Ward 3 – Patrick McClusky –mccluskycc@yahoo.com

Walter Jones – walter.jones@homewoodal.net

Ward 4 – Barry Smith  barryandkyle1@charter.net

Alex Wyatt – awyattcc@gmail.com

Ward 5 – Peter Wright – pwright@sirote.com

Jennifer Andress – andressk@bellsouth.net

Click here for a pdf file of the letter.

High School relocation meeting, Sept. 27, 2016

More than 300 parents and residents showed up to hear why the current high school building is obsolete, and must be relocated.

More than 300 parents and residents showed up tonight to hear how growing enrollments have rendered the current high school building is obsolete. The school will likely be relocated to property purchased by the city on West Oxmoor Road.

Why the High School is moving to West Homewood and other questions asked and answered at a Homewood City Schools presentation tonight:

Most of the 300 + parents showing up tonight at the Homewood High School auditorium already knew the basic plan in play to relocate the 1973 high school building from Lakeshore Drive to a newly purchased parcel on West Oxmoor Road adjoining the West Homewood ballfields. But they were treated to an organized and straightforward presentation of supporting demographics and history, via a study by B. L. Harbert (which built the city’s latest Park and Rec Center) to make the decision more understandable.

Bottom line, the school system and city are partners in a plan to use a $4.25 million property on West Oxmoor Road to relocate the high school, expand ballfields and relocate the West Homewood Park swimming pool to a part of nearby Patriot Park property.

The supporting evidence was provided in an earnest, one-hour initial presentation by Homewood City Schools superintendent Bill Cleveland, who promised no elementary school would be relocated but toured the recent growth statistics at the system’s three elementary schools and middle school to the foregone conclusion that the high school could not long remain functional in its location on Lakeshore.

  • The growth in student enrollment system wide has increased 30% since 2000;
  • An equivalent growth in city park program participation has been tracked since 2009;
  • The median age of Homewood residents has dropped from 40 to 29, parents of early elementary-age students;
  • Kindergarten enrollment from 2009-10 to the current year has grown from 305 to 309, topping out at 349 in the 2013-14 academic year. These large classes are making their way through the grades, ultimately to push the capacity of the high school beyond its 1,177 capacity by 2023.

Current status by school, expansion possibilities and cost of additions at three elementary schools at $29,428,900 for all three and middle school expansion costing at least $13.7 million, probably more: 

hkes

 

 

 

 

Hall-Kent School, west Homewood

  • 588 students total; 42 classrooms
  • Easiest school to enlarge without disruption;
  • Could add 16 classrooms by an L-shaped addition on the north side that would occupy a portion of the track.

edgewood

 

 

 

 

 

Edgewood Elementary School

  • The largest school in attendance and grounds, at 832 students in 55 classrooms;
  • Could build out the east side for more classrooms, including a partial second story, and also expand the cafeteria on the south side, by taking up part of the playground.

shadescahaba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shades Cahaba Elementary

  • The smallest of the three elementaries and most difficult to expand, with 578 students in 39 classrooms;
  • Expansion to the north could add 18 classrooms and enlarge the cafeteria;
  • Could build a new gymnasium in the “horseshoe”‘ and use the current gym space for more classrooms.

hms

 

 

 

 

 

Homewood Middle School

  • The school has 927 students in 48 classrooms;
  • Considering adding a 5th grade wing angled out to the north toward Valley Avenue, and adding to cafeteria;

Dr. Cleveland,  a Homewood HS graduate and first principal of the new Middle School in 2005-06, said the school system’s working plan had been to sell the 28-acre Magnolia apartment property for single-family residential. Lately, in view of plans to expand, the system wants to hold onto the property, whether to build a new school building or build temporary classroom buildings to house students during elementary school construction (the original plan for purchasing the $10 million property was to develop a cross-country track and other facilities, possibly an intermediate school.)

At this point Dr. Cleveland introduced the parks and rec director to show how park lands were also in need of expansion to accommodate the growing city.

CIrcled area shows 15-acre property adjacent to the West Homewood Park ballfields to be used for park enhancements and potentially a new location for the high school.

CIrcled area shows 15-acre property adjacent to the West Homewood Park ballfields to be used for park enhancements and potentially a new location for the high school.

Park and Rec presentation

Berkley Squires, the park and rec director and now Public Services Superintendent over streets, sanitation, landscaping and parks, presented a case for expanding the park facilities, saying West Homewood Park had been purchased in 1966, enlarged in 197s and had multiple renovations in later years, including the pool and upper fields added in 2003-04.

Parks participation had grown from 3,100 children in 2009 to 4,100 in 2016, he said.

He said the ballfields were inadequate for growing baseball, flag football, lacrosse, peewee football and soccer programs; the pool wasn’t up to the standard of modern families, and the parks maintenance staff worked out of a disordered collection of metal buildings on the grounds. Harbert’s study showed how a new high school could be positioned on the property (already purchased by the city for that purpose) by the stadium and also provide room for a new maintenance facility and three new multipurpose fields on the upper-field (also called the 6-acre field), and add five ballfields. The old pool would be moved to land between the Senior Center and Patriot Park along with tennis courts.

Finally, the high school

Dr. Cleveland returned to the podium to explain how the current high school, built in 1973 for a 1,200 student capacity and undergoing 8 additions since then–most recently to add the alternative school in 2008–could not be enlarged easily at its current location, which is hemmed in by a steep grade to the rear and the floodway from Shades Creek in the front. Can a high school of 1,400-1,600 students be expected to function well in this location, he asked? The answer was obviously, no.

The first hour presentation was accompanied by several offers to answer questions and a promise to post the entire slideshow, demographics, and maps on the Homewood City Schools website, beginning tomorrow.