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Old Banks High School buildings to be demolished

Future of Banks High School debated

Pressure is mounting for the city to tear down the old Banks High School in east Birmingham. A petition with more than 150 signatures was given to the city council. Built back in 1957, the property has gone from a source of community pride to community blight.

Randy Saderwhite is a 1975 graduate of Banks High School. Now living next door he calls it nothing but a shell of a building attracting only bad things like theft and vandalism. "There's no aluminum, no wiring; the windows are shot out at night," remarks Saderwhite.

He believes the only option now is to tear it down. He showed us around the back of his house over run with weeds and falling trees from the vacant property. The trench to drain water away from his house full of debris.

"The word from this community, word from this counselor is to demolish Banks," says City Council member Kim Rafferty. She says demolition will take $350,000 dollars. The buildings span a large area. She says after years of mixed messages from the community about the future of Banks, they are united. Once the city budget is passed she expects some movement.

"I would hope by winter this is cleared," explains Rafferty. But first she says alumni will need a chance to come back, take a brick or two from the buildings and share memories. "It is a historical structure in the eyes of those who attended Banks. There's a big yearning for a homecoming," says Rafferty.

The property is owned by the city. It has been up for sale for years with no buyers. Plans to make it a technical training site never materialized. Rafferty says a feasibility study will have to be done with community input. Then she says it will likely be turned into some type of residential development.

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