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This old building most be demolished before the city can use the site, located behind city hall, for a new public library. It was donated by the Norris family.

Council authorizes required review to begin demos

The Russellville City Council passed a resolution during its regular meeting Mar. 7 authorizing Section 106 review services for the CDBG project to demolish structures at 11 sites across the city.

“It’s a report that has to go to the Alabama Historic Commission,” explained Russellville Mayor David Grissom. “It’s about all 11 city structures previously authorized for demolition and clearance.”

With the resolution, the city selected Kingstree Studios of Decatur to perform the required review services. The agreement includes a contract price not to exceed $4,000 and contract time not to exceed three weeks from the date of the signed contract.

The project, described in the agreement between the city and Kingstree Studios, includes “field work and documentation to produce a Section 106 Review for the 11 buildings identified in the RFP. This process will define the undertaking the area of potential effects, identify and evaluate the historic properties and assess effects.”

Consultation with the Alabama Historic Commission is a part of this process. Field work and final reports are scheduled to be submitted to AHC week of March 28.

Structures planned for demolition and clearance include 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 CDBG program toward the expenses incurred in 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 Elementary 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.”

Grissom, on an earlier occasion, noted the demolition and removal of the 11 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.”

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