Jeff State, Hoover announce partnership

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Jeff State students will soon enjoy a new place to attend classes.

At the same time, Hoover residents will have a new place to hang out. The city and the college held a joint press conference last week announcing a partnership that will result in a new park for area residents and a new academic building at the Valleydale campus.

Jeff State has purchased 11 acres of city-owned land adjacent to the college for $825,000. The college will use the acreage to construct an $18 million, 120,000-square-foot academic building that will include new classrooms and community space.

Hoover will use money from the sale of the land to develop an 82-acre park that will include walking and running trails, a lake, picnic area and other features.

The park will be adjacent to the Valleydale campus.

&uot;We think it will work beautifully,&uot; Jeff State president Judy Merritt said of the agreement.

Jeff State’s enrollment at Valleydale is about 3,100 – triple the enrollment when the campus opened in 1993. That has led to growing pains, Merritt said.

She said the college has recently turned away nursing school applicants – not because of ability but because of a lack of space.

&uot;We turn down as many as we accept just because of lack of space,&uot; she said.

The culinary and radiology departments are also slated to expand once the building is completed.

There will also be additional space for community meetings and events.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for August, and the building should be completed in 2007.

&uot;It will give us the opportunity to offer more services – hopefully very soon,&uot; Merritt said.

College officials will seek annexation later this year so the entire campus will be located in Hoover.

According to Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos, the joint agreement is a win-win for both the college and the city.

He said Hoover needs a place where residents can come together and enjoy the outdoors.

He compares the future park to Birmingham’s Linn Park, or New York City’s Central Park.

&uot;We have the smaller parks, but we don’t have a community park,&uot; Petelos said.

Asphalt walking tracks will be built around two lakes in the midst of the new Hoover park.

There will also be a cross-country track available for use by high school teams and other individuals.

Petelos said he would like to see a picnic area complete with pavilions and grills that could be used for family outings, church groups or other activities.

Bathroom facilities will also be located on the site. He adds the park could be used by 2,000 or 3,000 individuals at a time, depending on the event.

It will be easily accessible from adjoining Spain Park High School and nearby ballfields (The 82 acres include current ballfields).

The Shelby County Commission will also contribute at least $300,000 for playground equipment.

&uot;What is unique about this is the connectivity we will hopefully put in place that we don’t have elsewhere,&uot; County Manager Alex Dudchock said.

&uot;It will be something we can all be proud of.&uot;

Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon are serving as project architects, and Hoar Construction is serving as construction engineers