HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (WAFF) – There are big plans for the former JO Johnson High School site in Huntsville.
The campus was closed five years ago. Since then, city leaders and others have devised a plan to make it a heritage park. Last week the demolition of the JO Johnson High School began, which stirred up strong emotions in the community and on social media.
“We’re so connected to this school, and right now I guess my feeling is that I’m devastated,” Kason Henderson said.
Henderson graduated from JO Johnson High School in 2005. His brother graduated in 2000.
When Henderson learned that his old high school was going to be demolished last week, he decided to go see it and reflect on some old memories. Like the choir room, a place that he says has helped shape him and many others who love music.
“Because it was the first thing I thought about and is most connected with. There are a lot of great musicians and singers in this city that have trained there, and we just want to say goodbye properly, ”Henderson said.
Henderson and many others shared their memories on Facebook, posting photos of old trophies destroyed in the demolition.
They also shared their concerns that they had not been informed that the school would be demolished.
WAFF 48 contacted Huntsville City Councilor Devyn Keith, who said the city has been transparent since 2017.
“In the past three years we have had 12 public meetings on Johnson’s development. Twelve, and they’ve all been documented, the handwriting was written, emailed, and recorded because we wanted the public to have a say, ”Keith said.
Keith said the deal to demolish the school was because the building was beyond repair and firefighters and police were unable to use the space. Now the city plans to turn the property into a mixed-use development with new housing, a recreation center, now called the Johnson Legacy Center, and an amphitheater.
“Huntsville is growing. I came back here three years ago and appreciate all the new developments so it’s going to be beneficial in the long run, but as we move and transition we want the community to embrace this vision ” , said Henderson.
Keith said work on the new amphitheater will begin in October and is expected to be completed next year.
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