Old Berry High School
Hoover Mayor Gary Ivey stands in front of the iconic wall mural adjacent to the old Berry High School. The mural, which will remain at the site, was built by students in 1965, two years before Hoover became a city. Photo by Karim Shamsi-Basha.
The city of Hoover has agreed to buy the old Berry High School property, and the mayor said he is exploring plans to convert it into a proposed athletic complex.
The Hoover City Council, during its April 20 meeting, passed a resolution in a 7-0 vote authorizing Mayor Gary Ivey to enter a contract with the Hoover Board of Education to purchase the old Berry High property, 2826 Columbiana Road, for $9 million.
Under the contract, the Hoover school system will receive $3 million in cash at closing, followed by two more $3 million payments over the next two years.
During an interview at the old Berry High School prior to the vote, Mayor Ivey said that the city will consider converting the complex into a multi-use athletic complex. Ivey said athletics is a perfect use for the 35-acre campus since it contains a football stadium, several tennis courts and two gymnasiums.
With youth lacrosse and soccer growing in popularity, Ivey said using the stadium for lacrosse or soccer as well as youth football would be ideal, though no final decision has been made.
“Public use for athletics is a natural fit for this facility. It’s in the heart of Hoover,” Ivey said.
Councilman John Lyda said it’s no secret that the city of Hoover needs more public recreational space, especially for youth sports growing in popularity such as soccer and lacrosse.
“This resolution allows us to find an appropriate reuse for an important piece of property in the city while honoring the nostalgia and history of the old Berry High School,” Lyda said.
Ivey said the iconic wall mural adjacent to the school building, a historic landmark off Columbiana Road, will remain. He said the popular mural made of tiles was built by students in 1965 when it was still in use as Berry High in unincorporated Jefferson County, two years before Hoover became a city.
The old Berry High School closed nearly two decades ago when the new Hoover High School was built. The campus later served as Berry Middle School until a new Berry Middle School opened near Spain Park High School.
The Hoover school board currently houses its Crossroads alternative school on the old Berry High campus, and under the contract with the city will be allowed to keep the Crossroads school there for the upcoming 2015-16 school year until turning the property over to the city by June 1, 2016.
Hoover Board of Education President Donna Frazier called the city’s pending purchase of the old Berry High site a win-win for both the city and the Hoover school system.
“Given the size of this property, which is so special and unique in Hoover, the potential for the city to develop this property to meet the present and future park and recreational needs of the city of Hoover is extraordinary,” Frazier said. “From my perspective, the development of this property by the city is absolutely the best and most appropriate use of an asset that the city helped the board acquire in the first place.”
Considering the potential use of the old Berry High property for all Hoover citizens, including parents and students, Frazier said she will ask the Hoover Board of Education to meet soon to consider the sale to the city “once all legal requirements are met.”
“This transaction represents a true win-win for the city of Hoover and the Board of Education,” Frazier said. “The city can put this property to the best possible use for the citizens of Hoover, young and old. The board will be able to use the proceeds from the sale to address a number of pressing needs.”
Under the contract with the city, the Hoover school system will continue to pay all utilities, -- including water, gas, sewage, electricity, Internet and telecommunications -- along with providing housekeeping and pest control on the old Berry property until May 31, 2016.