College Avenue Elementary, 10 other structures face demolition
The City of Russellville has plans to demolish 11 city structures, including College Avenue Elementary School, under the jurisdiction of the Russellville City Schools Board of Education; the home donated to the city by the Norris family to make way for eventual construction of a new library; and a privately-owned florist shop across the street from the Russellville Utilities Board.
The remaining structures are houses owned by individuals.
The city will use $300,000 recently approved through the Community Development Block Grant program toward the expenses incurred in the project. The projects include demolition and debris cleanup at each site.
The full list of sites is as follows:
- 501 Montgomery St. SE
- 503 Montgomery St. SE
- 401 Montgomery St. SE
- 902 S. Washington Ave.
- 502 College Ave. N.
- 515 College Ave. N.
- 726 Jackson Ave. S.
- 807 Franklin St. NE
- 801 Franklin St. NE
- 108 Lauderdale St. NE
- 550 Fourth St.
One of the most well-known sites, of course, is College Avenue School. In his letter of support for the demolition, Superintendent Heath Grimes noted the aging facility was originally built in 1936, with a lower level added in the early 1950s.
“The building is in a state of disrepair,” Grimes wrote. “Currently the roof is beginning to collapse, and water continues to pour into the building. The building is an eyesore and a safety hazard. We are unable to keep the building up, and it continues to be a burden and a hazard to the community.”
Rep. Jamie Kiel said the slate of demolitions is a step in the right direction for Russellville. “Blighted property is a nuisance and a danger,” he said. “I’m glad I was able to help the city in their efforts to obtain funding to help with this project.”
“The total cost of the project is $340,879.80,” explained Mayor David Grissom. “The demolition and removal of long-vacant and dilapidated structures will help make our city safer as well as improve the aesthetics of our community while paving the way for future improvements in those locations.”
In a letter of support for the demolitions, included as part of the CDBG application, then-county revenue commissioner Veronica Stancil noted the benefit the demos will offer for Russellville.
“Not only will this improve the appearance of the city, and the surrounding areas, it will increase the tax rates on the lots as well,” Stancil pointed out. “The lots will be classed differently once the dilapidated structures are removed.
“In Franklin County we are always looking for ways to improve our county. This will be a significant improvement.”
The projects must be bid out before they can begin.