Sunday, September 7, 2014

Historic Fairhope School Vandalized

Fairhope, Alabama


According to city hall sources, the 90 year old school on Church St. downtown has been vandalized at least twice recently; juvenile suspects were apprehended the first time, but no one yet for the second incident.

Windows were broken, graffiti sprayed on walls and the flooring in the old gymnasium/auditorium were damaged, according to one unconfirmed report.

The Fairhope police department has taken steps to increase security there, including more-frequent patrols and new video surveillance.

Fire is the primary concern for city officials; there are conflicting reports about the building's sprinkler system: some say it is operational, but others that it has been shut off to prevent water damage by leaks or broken pipes.

Mold is also a worry, since the air conditioning has been shut down since closing in 2011.


Various personnel from the city, FEEF, and other stakeholders have been meeting for some time (click) to formulate a proposition to take to the next Baldwin County School Board when it takes office in early November.

Sources say one proposal being considered is a long-term lease (99yr)  -- with some kind of partnership including the city, FEEF, School Board, and a yet-to-be-named new non-profit corporate entity combining to upgrade and convert the building into a multi-use Performing Arts Venue and arts-oriented education classrooms -- to be made available to all children in the county. (A magnet-type school has been mentioned.)

Another option mentioned less frequently is for the city to purchase the property outright, since the county is desperately in need of funding to build more schools elsewhere.

Estimates to repair/upgrade the building range to over $10 million, to be shared by the city and the new non-profit -- via private donations,  grants and other means.

When the cost to the city for leasing or purchasing the property comes up, Fairhope city officials are quick to point out that the city already spends over a million dollars annually supplementing local schools -- by providing and maintaining numerous school recreational facilities, various other "in-kind" services (ie. security), and  contributing $350K annually for supplemental classroom needs for the last two years (Education Advisory Committee).

A decision on a proposal has been delayed for over a year and a half, mostly because current two-term School Board Representative Bob Callahan had committed to the property remaining a school only, even it means demolishing the old building.

He had made such promises to local citizens'-groups, such as the 'Save The K-1 Center' in 2011. He decided not to seek re-election earlier this summer.

Callahan was the only School Board member to vote against closing the school in March of 2011.

Cecil Christenberry will assume the office next month; and has indicated conditional support for the city's plans; but also is quick to point out he is only one of the six who will decide the matter.

(Note: At a community meeting in 2011,  'Save The K-1 Center's president Leslie Tarbella did mention a magnet school as an appropriate alternative -- among others (click here).)


At last word, the three rapidly-deteriorating portable classrooms located in back are to be demolished soon; but the Pelican's Nest Science Lab, which is still in use, will remain for the time being.

K-1 school

auditorium, 2013 photo


Anonymous said...

Vandalism is a large problem in Fairhope. There are too many kids wandering the streets looking for trouble. It would seem a small town could get control of this before something major happens.

Anonymous said...

So true! Probably a lot more goes on than realized. Don't want to tarnish our name.

Anonymous said...

ha ha

Anonymous said...

JUST SAVE IT... IT IS A LANDMARK... Make a homeless shelter for Baldwin County....or a place for the teens to go and do things, this would get them off the streets... Fairhope does not have anything for teens to do or anyplace for them to go... what a shame...

Anonymous said...

A landmark? To whom? Nobody from outside Fairhope cares about the building. It's sentimental to some folks who went to school there, and that is fine; but it's hardly a landmark or a significant building. The sentimental value of the building will diminish in time.

Anonymous said...

Homeless shelter? Like Fairhope is going to let something like that go across the street from their new kids park, or for that matter, even in the city limits. They have an "image" to uphold. I think the location would be great for a rec center.

Anonymous said...

Kids have aways sneaked out late at night, gotten drunk, gone out and torn up things. What else is there to do here?

Anonymous said...

I have had problems with kids in our neighborhood in the past, always the same two or three, I talked to the parents and realized the kids act like their parents, "NO MANNERS" It is all in the way the parents act. The kids that were raised right I had NO PROBLEMS with.

Anonymous said...

Off street parking would be welcome. Lots of downtown events--no where to park.

Anonymous said...

Kids in fairhope? Thought city demographics were only crooked politicians, cronies, one percenters, old farts, dogs , wannabe artists/writers & flowers.

Anonymous said...

oh and to also add the kids in question also peed in my bushes ,but the mother saw nothing wrong with it. She just told everyone that I did not like her kids playing on the sidewalk in front of my house ,she was one of those" want to be" people. With that said , if the parents are like that ,what do you expect from the kids. Just awful!

Anonymous said...

i like old farts !

Anonymous said...

The, obviously, same contributers like to throw out charges of political corruption and cronyism, no proof necessary (arrests, indictments, etc.). Now the attack is on the wealth of our community, old people, pets, artists, writers and flowers. These are bad demographic elements? I have to assume that the authors of the barrage of complaints don't live here because if they hate it so, why would they?

Santana said...

Because the kids are those of judges, doctors, lawyers, liars, police and all the other people whom don't watch and teach their children, Fairhope will always have these problems. The cops focus on those whom aren't part of their sickness/disease and make them criminals, while they coddle these dumb-asses. Still own a home there (bought in June 2003) -- and I became the "most dangerous woman" in town because one of the local pedophiles/perps/thieves/snitches/narcs tried to use me to get close to children. Go figure. Fairhope needs a federal check-up!

Anonymous said...

No, the police in Fairhope are great! The kids parents were not even close to being judges etc .,just common middle class people. The parents are the problem not the police , it is the PARENT'S job to watch and teach their kids not the police. I had great response from the police , but the mother was a whole different story. I called the police station several times and they were great!!!

Anonymous said...

I know the people who did this. Not personally, but we've talked before