BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Walladean Brown-Streeter and Joanice Thompson have called Bush Hills home for some 40-plus years.
They see the news that Birmingham Southern College will remain open as a win for Bush Hills.
Brown-Streeter is the neighborhood president for Bush Hills and sees the students as neighbors.
“But I’m very excited,” Brown-Streeter said. “Birmingham-Southern is Bush Hills. We are one. Those children are our neighbors.”
Thompson is president of the nonprofit Bush Hills Connection and has been working on removing empty and blighted buildings in the area. She’s thankful BSC will remain a bustling educational institution.
“My reaction was we can’t afford to have another empty building,” Thompson said. “We’ve been working very hard to get rid of some of the blighted property that is in the Bush Hills neighborhood, and we’ve been fortunate enough to do that.”
The financial package that saved BSC hinges on a still-developing bridge loan from the state.
State representative Juandalynn Givan, whose district includes BSC, believes the move will create a domino effect for other financial partners.
“If we put something on the table, I am of the firm belief that other entities are going to follow suit,” Givan said.
She went further to say that other entities are waiting to see what the state will do for BSC.
The initial ask from BSC President Daniel Coleman contained a request from state and local governments, including the Jefferson County Commission.
Commissioner Sheila Tyson said BSC is not a unique case.
”The economic impact that Birmingham Southern brings to Jefferson County, Miles College brings about the same economic value to Jefferson County,” Tyson said. “So, I can’t say I have a commitment to Birmingham-Southern without saying I’ve got a commitment to Miles College.”
Mya Jolly is the director of public relations for Miles College. When CBS 42 reached out to inquire if the school is seeking any funding from the state of Alabama or Jefferson County Commission, she stated the following in an email response:
“Miles College is celebrating our 125th Anniversary of our founding. Each year we have a fundraising campaign known as the Annual Fund where we raise dollars for student scholarship and emergency aid; academic programming; infrastructure and facility upgrades; technology upgrades; faculty and staff professional development programs and our endowment. During this fiscal year the Jefferson County Commission provided Miles College with $100,000 to assist with the preservation of Historic Williams Hall. Williams Hall is on the registry of Historic Properties and is the oldest Building on our campus. Miles College has no funding request before the state or county government at this time.”
Tyson also said that the commission had met personally with Coleman and that no funding commitment had been made by the commission at this time. Brown-Streeter believes the time is right to move beyond disagreements and focus on what can be done to help any educational institution in need.
“Whoever needs help, help them,” Brown-Streeter said. “Whoever you did not help in the past, it’s the past. Let’s go forward and make a change.”