Dirty work

Good ol' Alabama red clay will get churned around some more at this site of a proposed parking lot for Jacksonville State University students. The university and the city's public schools office have reportedly reached an agreement allowing the university to continue its work on the patch of land near the former Kitty Stone Elementary School.

Jacksonville State University has reached a tentative deal to resume a parking lot project it halted more than a week ago after someone pointed out the land belonged to the city school system.

Sam Monk, attorney for JSU, said Monday that construction would be ongoing over the next few days on property along Goodlett Avenue. The parking lot is needed for classes relocated from campus because of the March 19 tornado.

Monk said he couldn’t yet reveal the details of the land deal because attorneys on both sides were still hashing them out.

“But the parties have reached an agreement in principle,” Monk said.

Some of the land needed for the parking lot is bounded on three sides by the old Kitty Stone Elementary, which is owned by JSU, according to Calhoun County records.

Monk said JSU administrators and the Jacksonville Board of Education will still need to approve the deal once it's finalized.

Mark Petersen, superintendent of the city school system, said that in the meantime, JSU was given permission to restart construction.

“We’ve agreed to that … they’ve got to do that work,” Petersen said.

Classes begin Tuesday for JSU’s fall semester.

The parking lot is needed by the JSU school for business and industry, which was relocated to the old Kitty Stone Elementary. The school’s previous building, Merrill Hall, was severely damaged by the tornado and is slated for demolition.

The parking lot is just the latest project JSU has undertaken in recent months to prepare the campus for students’ return following the tornado. For instance, JSU recently bought 22 mobile homes for $594,000 to house some students and help alleviate an off-campus housing shortage caused by damage that two private apartment complexes suffered.

Also, besides the loss of Merrill, the university will be without Wallace Hall and part of Mason Hall as they undergo repairs and upgrades following the tornado. As a result, students and faculty who used those buildings will be assigned temporary office and classroom space across campus this school year.


Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.