Old East Highlands Elementary School Demolition Plan

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A building that once served as an elementary school in Dothan will soon be demolished and a community park will go up in its place.

It's all part of a clean up effort in the southeast part of the city.

East Highlands Elementary School has served many roles throughout the decades, but as years passed, time took its toll.

"It actually was closed once, then we reopened parts of it for a youth program and then they closed it again after Hurricane Ivan, I believe, damaged the roof. Now it's gotten to the point where our city insurance carrier has told us they're not going to cover us," said Director Todd McDonald of Dothan Dept. of Planning & Dev.

The building has been empty for the past couple of years and for those living in the neighborhood, it's hard to look at.

The structure itself is so deteriorated, it's no longer salvageable so the current plan is to tear the building down and put a community park in its place.

The East Highlands Learning Center was built in 1951 and could be demolished in as little as six months. It will be the biggest effort, so far, to clean up the southeast part of Dothan.

The park will include a quarter-mile walking track, a playground, benches and pavilions and officials are also hoping it will help spark urban redevelopment in the southeast part of the city.

"I think that putting Highlands Park there will provide a catalyst for people to move back into the neighborhood," said Mike West of Dothan City Manager.

He also hopes it shows the city's commitment to making sure neighborhoods are strong.

The project has been two years in the making and will be paid for by $100,000 in federal "Community Development Block Grant" money.