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Cahaba Project residents push for neighborhood school

By Gary Lloyd

TRUSSVILLE — Cahaba Project residents are pushing for two new community elementary schools in Trussville.

In a letter to residents from the Cahaba Project Homeowners Association, the association states that many young families in the neighborhood would benefit from a K-5 school nearby.

The plan, should a seven-millage property tax increase pass Feb. 25, is to build a new elementary school in the Magnolia Place area and renovate the historic school building in the Cahaba Project. Seven additional mills in property taxes would cost Trussville residents $70 per year on homes appraised at $100,000, $140 per year on homes appraised at $200,000 and $210 per year on homes appraised at $300,000.

“The school, stadium and track have been the life force that has kept this community vibrant for 75 years and slowly that life force is being drained away,” the letter states. “The school site sits vacant, the stadium will be moving to the high school. If this property tax is not passed there will be little hope of restoring the old school and it is possible that our neighborhood could become vulnerable to decay.”

The historic school building in the Cahaba Project
photo by Gary Lloyd

The letter states that if the vote does not pass, then Trussville City Schools will likely give the school building back to the city.

“Then it is up to the city to decide what to do with the property,” the letter states. “At this time there is no funding in the city budget nor plans for renovation of the old school site.”

Laura Reichert, a Trussville teacher who lives in the Cahaba Project, said it was wonderful having the school nearby when she was growing up in the neighborhood.

“Even when Trussville schools were part of Jefferson County schools the difference between our schools and others in Jefferson County was the commitment by the parents and other residents of the city to make the schools the best they could be,” she said.

Bob Davis was born in the Cahaba Project in 1950 and still lives there, on West Mall. Two of his sons and his mother live on West Mall. Davis, his wife and all their siblings graduated from the Cahaba Project school building, which was constructed as part of the New Deal program in the 1930s.

Davis said he’s visited many homestead projects throughout the U.S., and this one is the most impressive.

“All of the original buildings and housing units are still standing,” Davis said. “Even after four received substantial fire damage over the years, this community has never failed to rebuild.”

Davis said the school building is the focal point of the area, the keystone of the Cahaba Project. He said in the next 24 years, the area will be 100 years old.

“It gives Trussville a nice balance between the old and the new,” he said.

Davis said the property tax increase makes sense because it addresses overcrowding at the Paine Elementary Campus and it restores the city’s most iconic building.

Reichert agreed, saying she hopes Trussville residents see passing the property tax as a legacy to the people who come to Trussville later.

“I am willing to pay the extra tax because it is the right thing to do,” she said. “I am grateful to the people of early Trussville who saw fit to do what is best for kids way back then because it was the right thing to do, and I was the beneficiary of their wise choices.”

Contact Gary Lloyd at news@trussvilletribune.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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