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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)
Some longtime Park Circle residents are feeling nostalgic about the Attaway-Heinsohn Stadium on the North Charleston High School campus, which is set to be torn down to make way for a technical training center.
North Charleston City Councilman Bob King, who represents the area, said "there's a lot of sentiment about keeping it at North Charleston High School. That stadium has been there a long time."
The Charleston County School District plans to tear down the 1940s-era stadium for its $43.7 million North Charleston Center for Advanced Studies. The center will offer technical training, such as auto repair, cosmetology and culinary arts, for students in all five North Area high schools.
The district also plans to build a new $14.2 million shared athletic stadium that will serve those same high schools: North Charleston, Stall, Academic Magnet, School of the Arts and Garrett Academy of Technology. But it hasn't found a site for it.
County voters approved the plan for the stadium and the new center in 2014. The school district already has a Center for Academic Excellence in Mount Pleasant and plans to build regional centers in West Ashley and North Charleston.
On Saturday, the school district is holding a community meeting on the Center for Advanced Studies from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at North Charleston High School, 1087 E. Montague Ave.
Allison Wind, leader of the Children and Family Ministry at Charleston United Methodist Church in Park Circle, said members of her church haven't had a formal discussion on the plan. But many members are longtime Park Circle residents who think the stadium is important to their neighborhood.
"If the community pushed back on the plan," she said, "I could see where our church might support them."
She said a lot of people could be upset when the ramifications of the plan sink in, "not mad but sad."
Last fall, a group from her church stepped up to support North Charleston High's football team, which plays its games in the Attaway-Heinsohn Stadium.
The team's support and morale were pretty low last year, she said, with only about 100 people showing up to watch the games. So members of her congregation organized tailgates for each of the six home games.
"Park Circle is one of those communities that really values its upbringing," Wind said. "It will be a big deal if it's torn down."
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey has said he supports the plans for the new stadium and the Center for Advanced Studies.
King said he thinks the school district should consider other alternatives, such as housing the center at North Charleston High School, which now is under-used. If the district has to build a new, larger stadium, it could be done on the site of the old stadium.
School board member Cindy Bohn Coats, who lives in North Charleston, said the 2014 referendum shows the public wants both the regional stadium and the Center for Advanced Studies.
She said it doesn't make sense to build a regional stadium on the North Charleston High campus because the site is too small - and it wouldn't be fair to the other schools.
She also doubted whether it would be a good idea to house the new technical training center in North Charleston High. While the school is under-used, its enrollment numbers are creeping up, she said. This fall, 513 students were enrolled, up from 426 in 2015. A decade ago, 1,250 students went there.
She said she expects the school to continue improving and attracting more students until it's thriving once again.
"This needs to be fair for everyone," she said.
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