By Terry Schrimscher, For the Tribune
CLAY – The former Chalkville Campus of the Department of Youth Services may spring back to life next year as a recreational facility for the city of Clay. City Manager Ronnie Dixon discussed the options for the property with the City Council during the Tuesday, June 27, meeting.
“It’s going to be a really long-term deal. The land committee will make their recommendation in September,” Dixon said. He said the Department of Youth Services board would probably make a decision in December.
“The caveat is it will only be used for recreational purposes. It cannot be sold or developed for commercial, residential or industrial use,” Dixon added. He said Youth Services could choose to offer Clay a license to use the property or a long-term lease.
The 500-plus-acre site closed in 2012 after a tornado damaged or destroyed many of the buildings on campus. The property has since endured more than a decade of neglect and vandalism.
“We can talk about all kinds of different recreational developments that can go in there,” Dixon said. “One of the easiest things is going to be to put some tennis courts, because they’re already there. They just have to be recoated.”
Dixon said many of the remaining buildings would likely have to be removed but the city would try to preserve some of the stone from the structures. He said it was unlikely that any of the buildings could be saved, including the chapel, which has fallen prey to vandalism and satanic graffiti throughout the building.
The property also includes a lake, which could be maintained as another local fishing spot for the community.
He did not say whether the city would try to preserve the historic clock in the administration tower on campus. The clock was originally located in the Jefferson County courthouse in downtown Birmingham and was relocated to Chalkville when the courthouse was demolished.
The administration building was one of several structures on campus constructed as a Works Progress Administration project as a program of President Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s.
Speaking to the Trussville Tribune after the meeting, Dixon said the plans could include a golf driving range and disc golf courses among other recreational uses. He said he did not anticipate building any lodges or plans for any overnight uses.
The next meeting of the Clay City Council is scheduled for 6 p.m., on July 11, at City Hall.