Several citizens in Gardendale have raised issues about the condition and safety of Gardendale High School’s Driver Stadium. In a recent social media post by The Gardendale News asking if our readers believed a major renovation was needed to the stadium, commenters mentioned issues ranging from the lack of handrails to concrete issues to accessibility issues for those who have mobility challenges, among other issues.
As of the publishing of this article, there were 86 comments in less than 24 hours of the post.
The issues have been present for quite some time and those who commented told stories of the challenges they and their loved ones have had inside Driver Stadium.
The Gardendale News spoke to Gardendale Mayor Stan Hogeland, who was aware of the comments about Driver Stadium made on social media.
Mayor Hogeland expressed that “a lot of the things they are bringing up are true. At a bare minimum there is a need for handrails.”
The mayor believes that changes need to be made before the next football season. “There needs to be a plan to solve these issues. They can’t all be solved at once.”
Mayor Hogeland expressed that while all potential issues would be tough to get done all at one time, that it’s important to have a plan and get started.
“Where we can start to solve some of these issues, I am confident that we can work with Dr. Gonsoulin to get something done. We would be open to helping.”
With over 2 million dollars in the collections from the 5-mill ad valorem tax Gardendale voters passed in 2013 to fund their own school system that didn’t materialize, the City of Gardendale may have more influence in talks with Jefferson County Schools.
Mayor Hogeland said that he would like “a meeting setup at the stadium with Dr. Gonsoulin to address the issues.”
The Gardendale News reached out to Jefferson County Schools about potential issues and a meeting between Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin and Mayor Hogeland.
Superintendent Gonsoulin confirmed that he would meet with Mayor Hogeland at Driver Stadium. “The Mayor and I have discussed that there are possible concerns. We have a meeting at the stadium scheduled.”