Eminent domain “off the table” for Montevallo Middle improvements

Published 8:52 pm Monday, February 25, 2013

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

MONTEVALLO — School system officials reassured Montevallo residents on Feb. 25 that using eminent domain is not an option when it comes to a new traffic plan for Montevallo Middle School.

Deputy Superintendent Tom Ferguson said the Shelby County Board of Education “is not going to move forward with eminent domain” when questioned by concerned residents at a public meeting about the traffic plan at Montevallo Middle Feb. 25.

Eminent domain involves the government’s authority to take private property for public use, assuming the government pays just compensation to the property owner.

“Eminent domain — that’s off the table. That’s not going to happen,” Ferguson said early in the meeting.

The new traffic plan would add 54 parking spaces in a lot behind George Daily Park, as well as carpool and drop-off lanes.

The plan would also add additional parking behind the school and would install a new road in front of the school to connect Selma Street directly to Montevallo Middle, which would help separate bus and car traffic for safety reasons and would eliminate through traffic on school property, according to a letter from the Shelby County School System to local residents.

Ferguson said while some nearby homes will need to be removed in order to build the road, school system officials are negotiating with those homeowners to purchase their homes. According to previous reports, the Board of Education has already purchased two homes adjacent to the middle school.

Ferguson also said that the current plan has not been finalized, and system officials are still collecting input from residents.

“That’s what this is for, because you’re giving us input about this very issue that concerns you,” he said. “This is a work in progress.”

Responding to concerns about governmental bodies such as the Shelby County Board of Education using eminent domain in minority communities, Montevallo Mayor Hollie Cost said she made it clear to the board that she would not support such a move.

“I will look you in the eye and tell you I will never, ever support eminent domain,” Cost said.

Additional Montevallo Middle improvements planned include a renovated building entrance and a new canopy for the drop-off area, a gymnasium expansion and the renovation of hallways and restrooms throughout the school.