Honeymoon begins for old YMCA owners

Published 12:44am Saturday, March 10, 2012

It’s always easy to criticize. Trust us, we’ve done it quite often in this space, but we’ve worked to ensure that our criticism has a solid foundation and provides a means to an end.

When it comes to the editorials we’ve penned relating to the old YMCA building, its owner and previous owners, those responsible and those who should be held responsible, our main goal was to push those involved to find a solution — once and for all.

For far too long the building sat crumbling as city leaders, historical preservationists, church leaders and private business people bounced the issue of the building’s condition back and forth in a terrible game of architectural tennis.

One side would blame the other while the other side would quickly return the blame.

And all along, the only loser in this game was the building and Selma’s history.

Now, the building has new owners as the Selma-Dallas Historic Preservation Society has completed its purchase of the building from Tom Bolton.

The transaction was completed recently and now the group, who had longed complained about Bolton’s ownership, now has the responsibility.

Let’s see what they can do with it.

As we have said many times, those who own historic buildings have more than a bank note that comes with the building, they have a note — a mortgage — with the community.

They have a responsibility to preserve and protect the architectural history in Selma.

And, unfortunately, as we have seen, that responsibility is a burden far too heavy to carry for some.

There are buildings that have owners who have neither the want nor the ability to protect the historical jewels they are responsible for.

We cannot afford to lose our history. We cannot afford to idly sit by and continue to play games with the history we hold so dear.

We applaud the society for its purchase, and look forward to seeing what it accomplishes.

  • johncoon

    Hey Pops — You have a lots of energy and great ideas. Lots of places here for volunteer service where you could make a great contribution and difference for your hometown. The beach would be only four hours away. Just saying………..

    • popdukes12

      JC: I’ll be home shortly after spring break. I’ll send you an IM on FB. I’ve only been able to get one city ordinance revamped through the Selma City Council over the winter and see a lot of work that needs to be done. pops

  • nancybennett

    After more than 10 years of requests to the City of Selma to enforce their codes, rules, regulations and ordinances (especially within the Historic Districts) and, after more than 10 years of correspondence with First Baptist Church in regard to the original YMCA property, The Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society now owns the YMCA building. $48,000.00 was paid to Mr. Tom Bolton for this property.

    At the same time the Society was closing on the property, an engineering firm was being hired to guide the Society in the stablization process for the building. The first phase of the process will be clearing the debris from where the roof collapsed- due to demolition by neglect by previous owners. While the final plans for the property have yet to be determined, stabilization is the first step.

    The Society has been sure to keep Mr. Swift apprised of what we were doing and where the process stood. Indeed, Mr. Swift was one of the very first people to hear that the deed had transferred.

    All the windows of Tremont School on the east side have been replaced, reglazed and painted. The roof, which according to a roofing contractor did not need to be replaced, no longer leaks. The building and grounds now look presentable and the neighbors have expressed their appreciation. The building is used on a daily basis by agreement with the Historic Society and Selma City Schools.

    The Plattenburg House, originally a stagecoach stop and inn, and one of the first permanent structures on maps of Selma, was re-roofed and painted approximately 5 years ago. The property has twice been sold and then reverted back to the Society when owners could not fulfill their original plans for the property. Numerous times the Society has publically stated that the property would be sold for a very nominal fee to an individual or organization that could show plans and financial ability for completion of a project there.

    The Foundry, close to the Old Depot Museum and new Riverwalk, was re-roofed and stablized with the guidance of the Alabama Historical Commission.

    The mill and miller’s house at Kenan’s Mill are in good condition and used by the Society and others for numerous events. A “barn” has been constructed for restrooms and storage areas.

    Throughout the history of the Selma-Dallas County Preservation Society, we have worked tirelessly to protect, preserve and promote the history and historical structures of Selma and Dallas County. Properties, whether accepted through donation or purchased outright, have been mothballed or sold to others, all in effort to keep important aspects of history alive. Across our nation and other countries of the world, buildings are often mothballed in efforts to hold the buildings until new uses and purposes can be found for them and to prevent deterioration or vandalism, just as the Historic Society has done on several properties it presently or previously owned.

    I know of no other individuals or organizations that have done as much, and certainly none that have done more for preservation in our city and county. We have all heard the importance of the green tourist dollars. The Society works hard to bring those tourist dollars into our area because we recognize their direct correlation to preservation.

    It is an easy task to sit back, be negative, and make comments that nothing ever gets done. The hard task is to continue day after day, week after week, year after year, to try and do something productive; to continue exploring ways to make good things happen that can make a positive outcome for the entire community. Please read and ponder the following quote from famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    • JustTheDude

      Well played, Nancy Bennett, well played…

    • popdukes12

      As you did on the school board, I’m sure you will make every effort to get this done. Time will tell if your efforts alone are enough to see this project through fruishen. Results will be measured in accordance to the differance between the Society’s vision and the public’s expectations for the project. Keeping them informed as to the details of the completed project may be helpful. Again, if anyone can get this done, it will be you, but time will tell. pops
      P.S. I liked your spin on the Tremont school project, but you know as well as I do the project was not completed in accordance with the deed provisions presented to the Scoiety by the city. But, no one was holding the Society accountable. Sitting on Broad Street, the “Y” will be a little different. Good luck Nancy.

  • popdukes12

    “we’ve worked to ensure that our criticism has a solid foundation and provides a means to an end”. Unbeknownst to many, “criticism” may be positive or negative. I interpret your article, concerning the transfer of ownership, as a positive: However,the “means to an end” you professed should be if the Historical Society completed the stablization of the property in a timely manner
    Given the Historical Society’s history of completing what they start, I’m rather sure many additional barrels of ink will be used to print concerns on the YMCA project.
    Twenty years ago the Historical Society took on the Plattenburg house behind the Grist YMCA and it still sits boarded up. Three years ago the Historical Society was given ownership of the old Tremont School with the proviso that the roof and windows would be fixed within one year. The roof was patched (nowhere close to the $300,000 presented to the city) and scores of windows still sit shattered. Naturally the city never called them on the this (I guess it’s nice to have friends in city hall). Maybe the old YMCA will be different, but I really doubt it. The Society is good at presenting the story to acquire property and and thin on follow through. pops

    P.S. I’m sure we will see Mr. Swift back at city hall before this is over.

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