North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

September 11, 2013

Updated: Pinson council votes to purchase Old Rock School, views new park plans

By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News

PINSON — The Pinson City Council approved one major property purchase, and viewed the latest plans for another, in two separate meetings last week.

On Friday, the council voted to purchase the former Old Rock School from its current owners, Solid Rock Church. The purchase price is $975,000.

The approval came in a continuation of Thursday night’s regular council session, and was not unanimous. The vote was 4-2 in favor, with council members Robbie Roberts and Joy McCain voting against. John Churchwell, Joe Cochran, Dawn Tanner and Mayor Hoyt Sanders voted in favor.

Roberts opposed the move because he wanted more time to look over the purchase and decide whether the city could handle it financially, along with the costs of constructing the forthcoming Pinson Park.

Sanders thinks the city’s income is enough to handle both the school purchase and the new park.

What the school will be used for “still remains to be seen,” Sanders said. “It’s a historic landmark we can’t afford to let get away.”

The purchase also includes the land on which Triangle Park is located, across the street from the former school. Sanders said that most people in Pinson assumed that the city already owned it, but that wasn’t the case.

This is the latest part of a long effort to buy the school, including an aborted effort earlier this year. Solid Rock Church has owned it for a decade; it sat empty for several years before that, Sanders said.

The purchase is contingent on the church relocating; it is currently attempting to buy the former New Covenant Church property on Pinson Valley Parkway. If that sale goes through, the contract with the city allows for the use of the ball fields on the New Covenant land to be used as practice fields by the Pinson Valley Youth Association.

During Thursday night’s regular session, council members got a close look at revised plans for the new Pinson Park.

Jane Ross showed new artist’s renderings for the site, which involve minor changes from the previous version. The biggest change involves moving the park’s main building closer to the middle of the 14-acre site.

As before, the plans include:

The plan as presented, without the optional splash pad and some other smaller items, would cost $1,224,158. Added costs for optional items, plus a 5-percent contingency allowance for unforeseen costs, would push the total to $1,460,650.

Ross said the park would take approximately 12 months to build.